ETHIOPIA: ‘No Smoking!’ Sign Unheeded

January 2017 TheEthiopianHerald; Walking around, ironic as it may sound you might have seen someone smoking leaning on the billboard indicating ‘No Smoking!’ Warning. Some smokers may not also care about others while walking puffing on crowded pedestrian walks. Citizens too lack the gut to tell the smoker upfront not to smoke around him/her or tipping the empowered and responsible body to take punitive measures against those that violate the regulation on clean environment.

Smoking at restricted areas such as workplaces, schools, religious centers, music concerts, public gatherings and the like is contributing much to the illness of non-smokers. This problem is also inflicting a rising and inimical impact on public health worldwide. Even if smoking areas are clearly designated when it comes to translating rules and regulation there is no meaningful pressure on smokers to move to designated areas.

The low awareness of none-smokers on indirect smoking too contributes to the exacerbation of the problems of smoking on none smokers. Also the fledgling in their formative years and adventurous youths might be attracted to try the activities done by peoples in the surrounding. Also smoking designated areas need be set hidden from view. Thus the designated areas should be sealed from floor to ceiling, to bar encroachment by non-smokers. It as well should include ventilation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) framework convention on tobacco control has been adopted at Geneva on the 21st day of May, 2003. The House of Peoples’ Representatives of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has ratified the convention at its session held on the 21st day of January 2014. The proclamation is cited as the “World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Ratification Proclamation No, 822/2014”.

 Ethiopia has ratified smoking prohibition at public gatherings, schools, working, market places as well as music concerts. The parliament approved the tobacco control ratification proclamation to come into action or enforcement starting from March 2015.

The Ethiopian Food, Medicine and Health Care Administration and Control Authority (EFMHACA) is hereby empowered to undertake all acts necessary for the implementation of the convention.

Recently, the authority had organized a two-day training program at Adama town to media professionals The authority, in collaboration with the World Health Organization the Ethiopian country office EFMHAC organized the program. The main issue of the training was on tobacco control and its implementation.

In his opening remark Authority Director General Yehulu Denekew emphasized that the public need continuous sensitization works to be well acquainted on how to maintain a cigarette-smoke-pollution-free environment. To ensure a healthier and productive generation the government has set a 20 year health sector development plan. And as such the country is registering a remarkable progress in the health sector. The health extension strategy and the health development army scheme is playing quite a role in deepening public awareness pertaining to public health.

“The authority is fulfilling its entrusted lofty responsibility of creating ethical youths and building a responsible generation aloof from dangerous drugs, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, ‘Chat’, hashish and other hardcore addictions. Thus huge awareness creation is important to ensure attitudinal shift in making youths proactive in keeping their healthiness. The authority is taking the appropriate measure on illegal drug traffickers.”

He underlined the need to strengthen cooperation to protect the youth and the public from psychological impact that might arise from addiction to bad drugs.

Different researches show that currently the number of non-communicable diseases is increasing parallel to the communicable ones. The main cause to the increment of the non-communicable diseases was mainly ascribed to smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products.

 The director urged citizens for an all-out campaign to ripple the execution of tobacco control countrywide.
 On the event the authority lauded exemplary the greater role and the remarkable results registered in controlling tobacco and other illegal drug abuses in Tigray state. The state youths’ determination and the public’s active participation has helped materialize the outstanding accomplishment.

Presenting a paper entitled ‘Overview of tobacco control’ Authority Medico-legal Service Directorate Regulatory Information Development and Communication Expert Bahiru Zewudie said that further awareness creation platforms should be organized to sensitize the public. In addition to this a training is given to media, law professionals, police men and other bodies to implement the proclamation accordigly.

He underlined that tobacco control needs multi-sectoral partnership and active participation through maintaining tobacco free generaion.

Citing the World Health Organization (WHO) 2016 report, he indicated that currently 6 million people die per year/one every six seconds. This data is extrapolated to grow to 8 million people by 2030. Moreover, the report revealed that mostly men in the age group between 15-49 inhale the largest amount of tobacco smoke. Magnitude of smoking by educational level indicates that the illiterate ones form the greater segment of tobacco consumers.

In addition to this, the magnitude of tobacco consumption in Ethiopia by state level shows that the high ‘Chat’ consuming states comprise the highest cigaret smokers. Thus, Harari State and Diredawa city administartion reportedly consume a huge amount of tobacco.

The direct repurcussion of smoking is the economical loss that attends it at global level.It is said more than 500 billion USD is wasted annually. And its indirect impact is the health hazard which finally cripples global productivity and exposes people to health expenditure. The other dangerous aspect is the environmental one, which exacerbates air pollution.

 As a solution he underlined the need to avert this killing habit. Demand reduction measures like tax increment and reducing supply of tobacco products from factories are the main mechanisms. While confirming age of buyers, hiding cigarette display in shops, never selling a single stick of cigarette and limiting cigarette smoking disgnated areas are the secondary ways to protect exposures to tobacco consumption.

Religion, culrure and custome, political commitment, legal frameworks, global mobilization on tobacco control are the opportunities for remarkable change on the way towards scaling down number of smokers in the future.

Authority Deputy Director General Dr. Keyiredin Redi said that the authority is actively working to secure the lives of citizens. And to further the healthiness of the society and ensure a productive generation. The active engagement of the government, private and public organizations as well as the security would be decisive.

Doctors have repeatedly been stressing that smokers have breathing problem because smoking damages the lungs. If one has asthma, one can suffer more frequently and more serious attacks. One’s lungs could be very badly affected by smoking. Coughs, colds, wheezing and asthma which are among the early symptoms of the addiction. Smoking results in fatal diseases such as pneumonia, emphysema and lung cancer.

Smokers are also at the risk for diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular diseases).

To sum up, vast sensitization work should be available to the public to be on their guard against tobaco. Working in partnership with the media, police, lawyers, religious and political leaders as well as notable persons and artists are expected to pay due role in containing the bad habit of smoking. Not only that the publicizing work of tobacco control directive should address all citizens living in urban and rural areas. Helping those who have been smoking to quit and sustain their own and family life is the greatest achievement of social responsibility, which resulted in creating healthier and self-growth minded generation.

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