8 March 2018

Tanzania: Tobacco Fight May Get a Jab From Bloomberg Fund

Cape Town — Tanzania's efforts to control tobacco use stand to benefit from a new initiative launched in Cape Town, South Africa Wednesday to step up global efforts against tobacco industry's subtle means to undermine public health through promotions of cigarette smoking.

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg will provide 20 million US dollars to create a new global watchdog agency that will be monitoring the tobacco industry attempts to undermine tobacco control measures under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

The new global watchdog agency, Stopping Tobacco Organisations and Products (STOP) to be run by his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies was launched as the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health got under way in Cape Town.

The new initiative came amid reports that tobacco kills seven million people a year, and more than 80 per cent of the globe's 1-billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Smoking prevalence is going down in Tanzania with declining percentage of smokers according to the Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey 2015-2016. However there are concerns the number of smokers may be rising due to population growth.

A new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington show although globally, smoking prevalence -- the percentage of the population that smokes every day -- has decreased, the number of cigarette smokers worldwide has increased due to population growth.

Tanzania enacted a Tobacco Products (Regulation) Act, 2003 to regulate public smoking, tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and tobacco packaging and labeling.

It is also a signatory to WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a supranational agreement that seeks to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke by enacting a set of universal standards stating the dangers of tobacco and limiting its use in all forms worldwide.

The new agency launched on Wednesday will identify deceptive tactics employed by the tobacco industry and provide support to countries to counter Big Tobacco's influence, said Kelly Henning, who heads Bloomberg Philanthropies' public health programme.

It will function as a robust global monitoring system that complements existing efforts in identifying tobacco industry deceptions and deliver regular reports detailing tactics and strategies both at global and country-level.


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