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WHO Advocates For Complete Ban On Public Smoking, Calls For Higher Taxes On Tobacco

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WHO Tobacco Africa

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, has called for a complete ban on public smoking and the use of e-cigarettes, stating that higher taxes should be placed on tobacco.

Moeti said this on Friday in her message to commemorate World No Tobacco Day.

World No Tobacco Day is held every May 31 to raise awareness of the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use. This year’s theme is “Protecting children from tobacco industry interference.”

Moeti added that around seven million young people aged 13 to 15 in Africa use tobacco.

She emphasised that social media and influencers expose young people to tobacco products.

She highlighted that over 37 million young people globally use tobacco, and in Africa, 11.1% of boys and 7.2% of girls in the 13 to 15 age group use tobacco.

She noted that 1.3 million people die from second-hand smoke annually, which can cause heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cancers.

According to Moeti, the WHO supports African countries implementing strong tobacco regulations. As a result, 45 countries in the region have ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, with 22 adopting new tobacco control laws.

She said this has led to a decline in tobacco use among adults from 14.9% in 2010 to 9.5% in 2023, with 22 countries on track for a 30% reduction by 2025.

Moeti pointed out that the tobacco industry uses misleading science and lobbying to attract young people and influence policies.

She urged African governments to strengthen efforts against tobacco industry interference and to protect youth through stricter regulations and awareness campaigns.

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