Jinja: In the world of marketing, cigarettes used to have the most well thought out adverts. Benson and Hedges, smooth all the way was an unmistakable TV advert several years back.
In Budhagali at the ramp out to the Falls was a signpost in the 90s that proudly read: Sportsman, Ye Sebbo. Bujjagali Falls!
The Benson and Hedges advert has been off the screens for decades. The Bujjagali signpost rusted and scrap hunters eventually saw it better to send it to the smelter.
Cigarette advertising was long banned and the campaign to rid the country of cigarette smoking gets intense each passing day.
As May closed, Uganda joined the rest of the world to celebrate The world “No tobacco day” and while at it, the World Health Organization officials called up on tobacco farmers to change into alternative livelihoods which are healthier, environmentally friendly and ensure optimal nutrition and food security.
“This year’s theme, grow food not tobacco aims at raising awareness about alternative crop production and market opportunities for tobacco farmers and encourage them to grow sustainable nutritious crops. The theme also seeks to expose industry’s efforts to interfere with attempts to substitute tobacco growing with sustainable crops, thereby worsening global food crisis,” WHO regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.
“Tobacco growing households in Uganda use children in cultivation. This robs them the opportunity to be children, to learn and grow normally. Most times they end up missing school to work in the farms,” doctor Moeti adds.
According to a report, willingness to stop growing tobacco in Uganda, published in 2019 by Adelaine Karemani and Fred Nuwaha, tobacco was a booming business in Uganda some years ago where it’s exchange earners rating was $ 120 million in exports revenue and employing over 75,000 farmers who were producing about 18000 tonnes per year and currently, the crop is grown in 25 of 146 districts. Tobacco has a market value of more than $80 million USD.
The no tobacco day was created by member states of the World Health Organization in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and diseases it causes. In 1987, the World Health Organization assembly passed a resolution calling for 7th April 1988 to be “a world no tobacco day”. In 1988, another resolution was passed, calling for the celebration of world no tobacco day every year on 31st May and this year’s theme is Grow food not tobacco.
According to a recent report released by the WHO, tobacco related illnesses kill about 8 million people each year and 1.2 million people lose their lives out of exposure to second hand smoking. The report found that the carbon footprint from production, processing and transporting tobacco is equivalent to one-fifth of the carbon dioxide produced by the commercial airline industry each year, further contributing to global warming.
In addition, products like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco also contribute significantly to the global buildup of plastic pollution. The world health organization called upon governments to over tax tobacco and come up with campaigns to help people quit smoking tobacco.
“It’s time to redirect our efforts towards agriculture that nourishes our bodies and environment, on world no tobacco day 2023, we are calling up on counties to end tobacco farming and shift to sustainable crops. By choosing to grow food instead of tobacco, we prioritize health and it strengthens food security for all,” said Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General WHO.