SMOKERS who hail from countries that have tough anti smoking laws but ignore the country's law that forbids smoking in public have been warned against disregarding the 2003 Tobacco Products (Regula- tory) Act in Tanzania.
The Executive Director of Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum (TTCF) Lutgard Kagaruki and the Manager of the Uganda Health Commu- nication Alliance (UHCA), Richard Baguma made thisstatement in Dar es Salaam last Friday during a sensitisation workshop for journalists.
"Through cooperation with the Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) we declared Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) a smoke free zone several years ago," said Ms Kagaruki who pointed out that aboard planes arriving into the country, announcements are made that the air- port is a non smoking area.
Through successful lobbying, TAA declared all airports and airstrips in the country smoke free areas in 2010. Under the Tobacco Products Regulatory Act (TPRA) anyone found guilty smoking in public faces a jail term. "As advocates for a smoke free country, we need to speak out and if necessary influence law enforcers to prosecute people who smoke in public places," Kagaruki said.
He said although the country is signatory to World Health Organization's Frame- work Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC), the existing law is not compatible with the Convention hence the need for its reviewing.Seconding Kagaruki's observation, Mr Baguma pointed out that most visitors come to Africa and smoke in public with impunity because the public does not hold them accountable.
"They should be taken to task for violating the law because second hand smoking is a health hazard," Baguma pointed out. He urged the media in the country to work closely with TTCF to push for a speedy reviewing of the Act because both tobacco farm- ing and cigarettes smoking are hazardous to humans.
"In Uganda research has shown that a large number of teenage girls are smoking thinking it is fashionable," he pointed out warning that smoking women risk getting cervical cancer. Dr Ali Mzige from the International Medical and Technological University (IMTU) in Dar es Salaam warned that more men are becoming impotent while women are bearing still born babies and suffer from cervical cancer.
"All these problems are directly related to smok- ing and also second hand smoke," Dr Mzige noted. Research done by TTCF over two years ago revealed that over 30 per cent of cancer reported cases at Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) are related to tobacco.