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The stories, if you have heard about them at all, are all too true to keep a blind eye and pretend that we are deaf to the silent but atrocious ills that are eating away the lives of our children and youths. When the World Health Organization (WHO) presents the estimated 300,000 new smokers in Zambia by the elapse of about 4 years from now – then we must awaken to seek our own redemption.
The yearn we must surge into action is much more critical because it is our children and our youths who are most endangered; therefore, our future is deeply under threat. Think about it. How many people get to start smoking after they attain 25 or 30 years old? very few.
Most new smokers are younger people. In today’s Zambia kids who only stopped being breastfed 5 years ago enter hardcore smoking of tobacco products as well as other illicit substances. These numbers include more girls today than ever before. The notorious behaviours born from these circles are evidence of a broken society of young people who are destined to a sad future.
Public spaces are now branded with enticing tobacco advertisement such as the one at the entrance of East Park Mall, captioned: “Zambia vapes, I vape, do you?”
This article is not a pessimistic announcement aimed at depressing the Zambian people. It is rather intended to alarm and alert society and the Zambian leadership at all levels to step-up positive action to stop the painful vices of tobacco in all its forms and at all corners of our society.
Zambia’s over 7,000 lives and about K2.8B lost every year due to tobacco shall soon be multiplied as the tobacco industry intensifies production, branding, marketing, promotions, and the endless deceptive innovations such as shisha and e-cigarettes.
These innovations are a doom of lies as they are marketed as safer means of consuming tobacco and yet they only hastened suffering, pain, and eventual death emanating from their usage. I therefore recommend that:
- Community leaders should take keen interest in nurturing our young ones to desist from tobacco consumption and abuse of other illicit substances.
- Parents should enhance their guidance efforts in the upbringing of our children to prevent derailment of behaviours.
- Media houses should investigate and report the key facts around tobacco in the lives of farmers, consumption among children & youths, health and economic consequences of tobacco products, lies on the claimed great employment created by the tobacco industry, deceptive CSR by the tobacco industry and the continued pain of tobacco that is suffocating Zambia’s future.
- Government should enact the Tobacco and Nicotine Control Bill to enable the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to which Zambia became party over 13 years ago to take full effect so as to safeguard the public in a comprehensive manner.
Speaker, Activist, Transformational Trainer