By Feston Malekezo
As the world commemorates the No Tobacco Day, today, Malawi Non Communicable Diseases Alliance has asked government introduce and enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
The alliance through its chairperson Maud Mwakasungula has also asked government to increase taxes charged on tobacco and nicotine products to discourage many from smoking.
Globally, tobacco smoking kills approximately 8 million people, mainly in low and middle income countries, Malawi inclusive.
In an interview, Mwakasungula said enacting strong legislation and enforcement of the same would protect people, particularly, children from tobacco smoking and smoke, including smoking in public.
“If we increase the taxes the money would be used to help other sectors of the country apart from discouraging people from smoking. Yes it would affect us but it is something that at the end of the day it brings in a win-win situation where lives are saved and the money from the taxes could be used for other things,” she said.
The demands come at a time when the country heavily relies on tobacco as its major foreign exchange earner.
Commenting on the demands spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture Gracian Lungu, says they continue getting such views which help in policy formulation.
According to Lungu, the country has not yet reached a stage of stopping tobacco production.
“Much as smoking is hazardous we are still finding ways to mitigate the impacts. We understand that world over, manufacturers of cigarettes and cigars they have been investing on new innovations aimed at reducing the hazards that may come forth with smoking,” he said.
Globally, tobacco smoking kills approximately eight million people yearly, mainly in low and middle income countries, Malawi inclusive.
The World No Tobacco Day was established by the Member States of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and diseases it causes.