Dar es Salaam — The Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum (TCCF) has raised a red flag over tobacco companies increasing investments in the country.
TCCF executive director Lutgard Kagaruki expressed the concern, disclosing that eight tobacco leaf processing and manufacturing companies were selling more than 10 cigarette brands in Tanzania.
In a statement, Ms Kagaruki called on President John Magufuli to shift his attention on protection of the youth who she said were the main target of the tobacco firms.
"The TCCF and partners urge President Magufuli not to turn a blind eye on our children. They need protection now that these companies are targeting them," she said.
"We need industries, but we are saddened that our President was a Guest of Honour at the inauguration ceremony of a company that produces hazardous products," said the statement.
The TCCF boss revealed that cigarette kiosks have mushroomed in Dar es Salaam, using promotional girls, some as young as 15, to sell cigarettes.
"Using underage girls violates Tanzania's child labour laws. Cigarettes are being offered for free for trial to beginners. The convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Tanzania is a partner, emphasizes on the children rights," she added.
Over a week ago, a new global initiative, dubbed Stopping Tobacco Organisations and Products (Stop), was put in place to expose how the tobacco industry targets children was launched.
During the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Cape Town, SA, stakeholders said Stop would serve as a global watchdog that will aggressively monitor the tobacco industry tactics and practices that undermine public health.
Every year, more than 17,200 people die from tobacco-related diseases in Tanzania, reports show.