The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on African governments to impose environmental taxes on tobacco across value and supply chains, including production, processing, distribution, sales, consumption and waste management.
Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director for Africa, made the call on Monday in a message to commemorate World No Tobacco Day 2022 which is always celebrated on May 31 every year.
Ms Moeti said the day aims to raise awareness of the negative health, social, economic and environmental effects of tobacco production and consumption.
She said the theme of the year, “Tobacco: A threat to our environment”, aimed to highlight the environmental impact of the entire tobacco cycle, from cultivation, production and distribution to to the toxic waste it generates.
Ms. Moeti advised countries to accelerate implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which provides the guidance needed to advance the creation of smoke-free environments.
According to her, the framework will create programs to help smokers quit smoking and support for excise tax enforcement and other financial countermeasures.
Ms. Moeti added that despite 24 African countries banning smoking in public places and 35 banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, we estimate that one in 10 African adolescents use tobacco.
She explained that the emergence of new products, such as e-nicotine and tobacco products, are also proving attractive to young people, which heightens concerns.
“With 44 of the 47 countries in the WHO African Region having ratified the WHO FCTC, which commits them to adopting effective and evidence-based measures to reduce tobacco consumption,” noted the Director of the WHO. “The need to address related environmental damage has prompted the WHO to redouble its efforts to counter the global threat.”
She also mentioned that the environmental impacts of tobacco farming included the massive use of water, which was a scarce resource across most of the continent, as well as large-scale deforestation and contamination of air systems. and water.
According to her, the land used for growing tobacco could also be used much more efficiently, especially in countries struggling with food insecurity.
“To help counter the threat, WHO has partnered with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Kenyan government to create the Tobacco Free Farms Project,” it said. -she adds. “Launched in March, the project is helping farms switch from tobacco to alternative food crops that will help feed communities, rather than harm their health.”