Enact tough tobacco law

The new push for tougher laws to curb the use of tobacco and save the millions of lives lost to cancer, heart disease and related non-communicable diseases every year in Tanzania should be supported. There are many reasons why policymakers must seriously consider the latest proposals by the Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum (TTCF).

The anti-tobacco campaigners want Tanzania to enact new laws that prohibit firms from advertising tobacco products, and also to increase taxes on cigarettes – make them more expensive and out of reach for the country’s youth.

Considering that at least 14.1 per cent of Tanzanians smoke every day, exposing themselves to life-threatening diseases, according to information from the ministry of Health, these are choices worth pursuing. The World Bank reports that increasing the real price of cigarettes by 10 per cent can save 10 million tobacco-related deaths worldwide and 700,000 in sub Saharan Africa.

There is reason to believe that Tanzania can also save a significant number of lives by taking that route. More so, in countries where such proposals have been adopted, there is proof of significant economic benefits of raising taxes on tobacco.

Globally, the golden leaf, as tobacco is known, is a multi-billion dollar business, which paradoxically, thrives at the expense of precious life.     

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