Uganda steps up efforts to guard the general public from secondhand tobacco smoke | WHO

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StatisticsDavid Komaketch is a 37-year-old man who lives in Mbale, Uganda. A father of three, David was always uncovered to tobacco smoke, which has put him prone to cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses. In 2016, he suffered respiratory misery, a frequent drawback amongst second-hand people who smoke.

Though I’ve by no means been a smoker, I used to be in fixed contact with tobacco people who smoke. Typically, I used to be uncovered to cigarette and shisha smoke on official journeys with colleagues or when going out to eating places or nightclubs,” he mentioned.

Identical to different secondhand people who smoke, steady publicity to tobacco smoke proved deadly for Komaketch. “In 2016, I skilled respiratory difficulties, and, after an examination, the physician discovered that my lungs have been affected by smoking. He due to this fact advisable that I keep away from all contact with tobacco merchandise”.

Publicity to secondhand smoke is an issue in Uganda, and younger individuals are extra affected with 19.7% of whom (over 1.7 million) are uncovered to tobacco smoke at residence, whereas 30% (2.7 million) are uncovered in enclosed public locations.

As a part of Uganda’s efforts to guard present and future generations from the dangerous results of tobacco, the nation ratified the World Well being Group’s Framework Conference on Tobacco Management (WHO FCTC) in June 2007 and subsequently handed the Tobacco Management Act in 2015. Article 12 of this legislation bans smoking in public locations, workplaces, and technique of public transport, defending secondhand people who smoke like Komaketch from the well being issues brought on by tobacco smoke.

Nevertheless, there are a number of challenges to implementing the smoke-free article, together with the rising presence of latest tobacco merchandise, corresponding to shisha.

“Tobacco is likely one of the important causes of heart problems, untimely dying, and incapacity worldwide, and shisha is a flavored tobacco product that’s extra harmful than cigarettes,” mentioned Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, WHO Consultant to Uganda. “Smoking shisha for 40 minutes is equal to smoking 100 cigarettes. This can be a well being problem that requires robust actions,” he added.

Between 2022 and 2023, WHO supported the Ministry of Well being to coach 157 legislation enforcement officers and 15 nationwide trainers from 5 areas to equip enforcers with expertise and data and foster consciousness elevating of the ban on smoking in public locations to make sure compliance. The coaching was adopted by enforcement actions within the focused Cities of Mbale, Jinja, Hoima, Masaka, and Kabale.

“Along with the 2015 Tobacco Management Act, which bans smoking in public locations, the legislation bans importation and consumption of shisha within the nation,” mentioned Ms. Christine Ahimbisibwe, Program Officer, Psychological Well being Division on the Ministry of Well being.

Awareness raising on the impact of tobacco Smoke on Secondhand SmokersWith monetary help from WHO and in collaboration with district well being officers, police, and the media, the Ministry of Well being performed 5-day enforcement actions in 86 public locations inside the 5 focused areas in December 2023. “We have been in a position to destroy confiscated shisha pots and arrest 83 offenders,” Ms. Christine added.

The enforcement of the smoke-free legislation within the recognized cities served as an consciousness elevating and a warning towards smoking in public locations throughout the nation.

Since December 2023, David says he has seen an elevated presence of anti-smoking signages throughout town, together with in resorts, eating places, and nightclubs.

“My associates and colleagues have stopped smoking in entrance of me. I really feel safer now,” David mentioned.

“WHO will proceed to help the federal government’s enforcement efforts to make sure full compliance with the tobacco management legislation and to guard the general public from publicity to secondhand smoke. One other pressing motion is to help the nation transfer tobacco farmers to different crops,” Dr Hafisa Kasule, WHO technical officer for non-communicable illnesses, concluded.


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