Dumelang Bagaetsho, today 31st May 2020, marks the World No Tobacco Day; a day dedicated to raising awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, as well as to discourage the use of tobacco in any form. Most importantly, it is a day intended to encourage people to discontinue the use of tobacco and tobacco products.
Although the Covid 19 Pandemic has robbed us of any prospects of commemorating the Day in our usual fashion this year, we will not miss an opportunity to talk about the importance of Tobacco Control in the Protection of Public Health.Tobacco and Tobacco products kill 8 million people every year through lung disease, heart diseases, cancers and other non- communicable diseases. Tobacco use is responsible for 25% of all cancer deaths globally.
Furthermore, evidence shows that young people are induced early on in their lives into using tobaccoThe theme for this year therefore is ´Protecting Youth from Industry Manipulation and Preventing them from Tobacco and Nicotine Use´. a theme we find to be very fitting and relevant to the current times and trends. Our young people remain vulnerable to an array of persuasive, carefully crafted commercial messages encouraging the use of tobacco products. A broad range of social, environmental, psychological, and genetic factors further renders them susceptible to manipulate the tobacco industry through their ever rising trends in tobacco marketing.
It is therefore the responsibility of the Government of Botswana to protect our leaders of tomorrow from industries whose main aim and intention is to destroy them.To that effect, I am pleased to inform you that Botswana signed the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2003 and ratified the same in 2005.
This has given Botswana the opportunity to refine the Control of Smoking Act to a more comprehensive statute that will align to the articles of the FCTC. Bagaetsho, we make note the frustrations that have been caused by the delay in passing the proposed bill into an Act, and therefore wish to assure you that the Ministry of Health and Wellness, in collaboration with key stakeholders, are working around the clock to ensure that the passing of this bill becomes a reality.
Other measures that have been taken by the Botswana Government include:· Signing of the ‘Protocol on Elimination of Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products in 2013’, and are currently in the process of ratifying it.The introduction of the Tobacco Levy in 2014, resulting in the appointment of the Tobacco Levy Implementation Committee which facilitates the realization of the purpose of the levy fund order.
Bagaetsho, it is the intention of the Ministry of Health and Wellness to ensure that our youth are protected from the manipulative tactics employed by the tobacco and related industries, we will collaborate with Civil Society Organizations to empower the youth with information and knowledge on tobacco and nicotine products; We will empower influencers to protect and defend youth and catalyze change by encouraging them in the fight against Big Tobacco Industries; As we continue this fight we must also be aware that during the State of Public Health Emergency declared by the President of Botswana, use and sale of tobacco and Tobacco Products remain suspended.
This decision was taken to protect people from the severity of Covid-19; protection from notable habits of smokers such as sharing of tobacco products such as cigarettes, and smoking pipes. Tobacco smoke weakens the lungs that the Corona virus is known to attack. Bagaetsho, as we commemorate World no Tobacco day, let us remember to keep our social distance, wash our hands with clean water and soap or use alcohol based sanitizers, wear masks and comply with the Covid 19 regulations.
I thank you.