June 13, 2024
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WHO expresses concern over harmful influences of tobacco industry on youth as global community marks day.

By: Aisha Mohammed

As the global community mark this year’s World No Tobacco Day, World Health Organization have expressed its concern over the harmful influences of the tobacco industry on youth, just as it says an estimated seventy-five percent of global death from tobacco smoking is reported in developed countries.

WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus in a message by its Regional Director, Matshidiso Moeti at the opening session of the 77th World Health Assembly.

Ghebreyesus highlighted that tobacco use is declining in 150 countries and there are now 19 million fewer smokers globally than there were two years ago.

With this years’ theme, protecting children from tobacco industry interference, the WHO boss further explained that globally, more than 37 million young people aged between 13 and 15 years are using tobacco.

Ghebreyesus said in the African Region, tobacco use among young people aged 13 to 15 years is at 11.1% for boys and 7.2% for girls, which is about 7 million tobacco users.

He said an estimated 1.3 million people die from second-hand smoke every year and are entirely preventable and people exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke are at risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cancers.

In an innovative measure to counter increasing tobacco leaf production, WHO and other UN agencies and governments have supported over 5000 tobacco farmers in Kenya and Zambia to switch to alternative crops.

Ghebreyesus therefore pledged the support of WHO, to continue working closely with governments to address the barriers to effective response and speed up the momentum to protect Africa’s young people from tobacco use.

He urge other Member States in the African Region to step up their efforts to protect young people from tobacco industry interference by ensuring that governments honor and abide by their obligations under WHO FCTC Article 5.3 by introducing safeguards to protect tobacco-control policy from tobacco industry interference.

Ghebreyesus encouraged all its partners, including other UN agencies, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, academics and communities to raise awareness about the risks of tobacco use and support strong measures that shield the African youth from the harm of tobacco products and deceptive advertising practices of the tobacco industry.

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