(File photo) A boy picks up fish at Zanzibar, Tanzania, March 30, 2013. (Xinhua/Qi Lin)
ARUSHA, Tanzania, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Tanzania's semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago has begun enforcing the Tobacco Control Regulations, which bans smoking in public places, a senior official said on Friday.
Jamala Taib, Director General of Zanzibar's Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, said that the decision to enforce the anti-smoking regulations came after realizing that there is a rise of health problems linked to tobacco use such as cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure in the archipelago.
He said: "These new tobacco control regulations provide clear restrictions to tobacco use in public places, tobacco advertisement, promotion, sponsorship packaging and labeling of tobacco products."
"Zanzibar is not producing tobacco and has no cigarettes making factories but there are many people who are being affected by smokes generated by cigarette smokers," Taib said in an interview.
The official added that research has shown that large percentages of people in the Indian Ocean islands who are affected by the reckless cigarette smoking.
According to Taib, 15 percent of deaths of nonsmokers in Zanzibar are caused by those who smoke in public places.
Among other innovative tobacco control measures in Zanzibar include increasing taxes on tobacco products as well as reaching out to youth.
He cited police, other security and the general public as key partners in enforcing smoke free regulations, which requires cigarettes smokers to stay far away from the public for the healthier benefits of non-smokers.
Smokers must be some meters away from public spaces, such as schools, hospitals, bus stations, and even in vehicles. All these are considered public places, according to the official.
Tobacco control legislation provides the authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products, and ultimately control the tobacco epidemic in Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous archipelago off the coast of Tanzania consisting of Zanzibar Island, Pemba Island and many smaller islands.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.