Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Child Labour in Tobacco Farms Even Worse Thing

ILO (International Labour Organisation) has reported that last year it influenced the withdrawal of about 1,500 children from hazardous child labour.

Working side by side with government authorities and nongovernmental organizations that have their hearts in the welfare of children, the ILO also helped provide relevant educational opportunities to socially disadvantaged children. The ILO also recommended the removal from the worst forms of labour of all children working in tobacco farms.

It would be remiss on our part not to mention here that the ILO has done a wonderful job by helping curtail or prevent child labour in tobacco farms. In fact, handling and processing tobacco leaves is as detrimental to health as smoking any kind of tobacco preparation, including cigarettes and snuff. So, children who work in tobacco farms, sometimes along their parents, imperil their lives. They should be rescued.

Medical doctors say that health complications emanating from tobacco farming, processing and consumption are sources of respiratory infections that take many lives in this country. As if this is not critical enough, smokers often pass respiratory problems to the non-smokers around them through what is known as passive smoking. It is common to see smokers puffing in crowded places in Dar es Salaam.

Some of the most notorious culprits often puff in buses, hospitals, libraries, restaurants, bars, banks and government offices; sometimes in front of signs that prohibit the habit. Many smokers are aware that puffing in public or crowded places is restricted by law and is punishable. But, most of them are dare-devils who do not give a damn about harming other people's health.

But there is another canker that is even more worrisome -- no law bans the manufacture of cigarettes in this country. In fact, the population of cigarette smokers in Tanzania is so big that cigarettes are money-spinners. It is big-time business. The state earns billions from the cigarette industry.

However, the government has made it a rule of thumb to have a warning note posted on every cigarette advertisement saying it has been determined that "cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health." The same advert is displayed on cigarette packs and is designed to warn smokers and potential smokers against the habit. But the advert does not seem to have much impact on the fraternity of smokers. Whatever, the case, the state should stem the rot.

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