13 February 2013

Cameroon: Journalists to Fight Tobacco Consumption

A two-day workshop will hold in Yaounde from Tuesday, February 19.

Journalists from public and private media organs operating in the country will as from Tuesday, February 19, 2013 in Yaounde, begin a two-day workshop to acquire knowledge on tobacco, its harmful effects on human health as well as refresh their skills on investigative journalism.

Organised by the Cameroon Coalition Against Tobacco (C3T), the workshop is part of an ongoing campaign to sensitise and mobilise the public on the need for an anti-tobacco law in Cameroon. As prelude to the workshop, the President of C3T, Dr. Flore Ndembiyembe, told Cameroon Tribune that the law will be in conformity with the Framework Convention of the World Health Organisation for Tobacco Control (F.C.T.C.) which obliges signatories to put in place measures to reduce tobacco consumption and exposure to secondary smoke.

To situate the urgency of such a workshop, C3T officials say tobacco consumption has become an unavoidable epidemic that kills one smoker out of two. Out of six million tobacco-related deaths caused per year around the world, 80 per cent are recorded in developing countries, especially in Africa where tobacco consumption increases by 4.3 per cent per year. Tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, vascular accidents and cancer, are just some of the health havocs caused by the phenomenon.

As far as Cameroon is concerned, Dr. Flore Ndembiyembe paints a rather gloomy picture of the situation that warrants urgent action. In effect, tobacco smokers make up 17.5 per cent of Cameroon's population, with men making up 28.8 per cent and women, 8.1 per cent. Some 15 per cent of youths below 15 years are concerned, with high prevalence in schools where 44 per cent of pupils have already got a first contact with tobacco. Furthermore, she affirms that secondary smoke is also an important cause of illness and death in non-smokers. A total of 37 per cent of Cameroonians are exposed to tobacco smoke in public places and family environments.

Meanwhile, what is alarming, Dr. Ndembiyembe says, is that tobacco industries in the world are implementing commercial strategies that target youth and adults in developing countries. "Only simple, clear rigorous laws which are possible to respect will guarantee the public's power to benefit from pure air without tobacco smoke," Dr. Ndembiyembe affirms. Hence, she concludes, the adoption of an anti-tobacco law in Cameroon will be timely and journalists have a major role to play in educating the public and legislators to act.

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