Act to shield children from tobacco, state urged
Written by Millennium on August 8, 2019
LINDA SOKO TEMBO writes
GOVERNMENT should enact a law to ban the sale of cigarettes to children and near school premises, the National Action for Quality Education in Zambia (NAQEZ) has said.
In statement to the Sun yesterday, NAQEZ executive director, Aaron Chansa, said his organisation condemned the clear and systematic exposure of pupils to cigarettes.
Mr Chanda said the survey by the Tobacco Free Association of Zambia (TOFAZA) in 30 schools early this year, revealed that a total of 672 tobacco product sale points were located near schools.
The survey, intended to determine the level of exposure of school going children to tobacco products, also revealed that 274 permanent kiosks were selling tobacco products around the schools vicinity.
He said that the findings represented an average of nine kiosks per schools.
He noted with sadness that the reality appeared to be the same in most Zambian towns.
“The survey showed they were also 220 convenience groceries around these schools, with an average of more than seven stores for each school,’ said Mr Chanda.
“Multiple channels to advertise tobacco products are being used to capture the attention of school children and the use of tobacco to look like normal behavior, when it kills one out of two smokers,” he said.
Mr Chanda said the sale of cigarettes in single sticks increased the affordability of commodity to young people and promoted dependency on tobacco from early ages.
He said surprisingly, of the 672 sale points around the 30 schools, only 61% displayed “No sale to minors” signs and that all the schools surveyed had very inviting tobacco advertisements on their windows and store doors.
Mr Chanda said the proximity of tobacco sale points of less than 100 meters made it easier for pupils to buy and smoke cigarettes and other tobacco products.
“NAQEZ finds above facts as enough evidence that the tobacco industry has purposefully and systematically targeted school going children so as to increase accessibility to cigarettes and encourage initiation and addiction among young people,” he said.
Mr Chanda said a law should be enacted that would protect pupils on tobacco products and be compliant with the World Health Organization guidelines.
He said the Ministry of Health must quickly move in and provide the needed leadership on the matter.
Mr Chanda said NAQEZ was of a strong view that urgent actions should to be taken now in order to protect the young people from the health, social, economic and environmental consequences of tobacco use.
“If the government will not do anything about this very serious matter, most of our pupils in Zambia will easily become smokers and their academic futures will generally be in jeopardy. Let us act now for the sake of tomorrow,” he said.