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According to the 6th Edition of the Tobacco Atlas , a free online resource and companion book that maps the nature and magnitude of the tobacco epidemic and chart a course toward clear, proven solutions ( funded by the American Cancer Society ) , tobacco use has greatly increased in ALL African countries. More adults , children and women are smoking cigarettes . Tobacco related deaths also uniformly increased in ALL countries . Just how could this be , despite the millions of dollars that have been used in tobacco control in the last few years , not to mention increased taxes on cigarettes,pictorial warnings, etc ?

I’ll give you an example of Kenya. According to the 4th edition of the Tobacco Atlas, which was compiled in 2012 , 12,000 Children and 1,600,000 Adults used tobacco everyday . Fast forward 6 years later , 18,000 children (10–14 years old) and 2,158,000 adults (15+ years old) continue to use tobacco each day . A country that in the same period of 6 years ,banned shisha use, increased tobacco taxes about 6 times , introduced pictorial warnings and passed a stronger tobacco control bill in parliament.

Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids , Vital Strategies , American Cancer society , Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies collectively fund, promote and oversee tobacco control efforts in our region. Does this mean that tobacco control is failing? Or is the research bogus? Either way, something does not add up. How we jumped from 6 Million deaths every year to 7.1 Million deaths caused by tobacco use should be made clearer .To add on to that, we have not been told how they arrive at 2nd hand smoke deaths .How are these stats gathered and verified? The reason this is important is that Governments are given this statistics to shape their decisions on policy , it only ethical to use accurate statistics . Or , if these stats are correct then we should immediately defund tobacco control since it simply is Not working .

Harm reduction is an approach that is simply not being given the chance it deserves , yet more smokers are quitting cigarettes thanks to safer alternatives . If we care about smokers and really want to end this epidemic , safer alternatives should be encouraged .

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