Manufacturers of tobacco products have been castigated for not providing expressive messages, clearly indicating health dangers posed by smoking on their various advertisements and products.
The Murang’a County Health Promotion Officer, Mr Danson Mwangi, said tobacco products should have an elaborate message spelling out dangers associated with smoking.
Mwangi observed that the message, ‘Tobacco smoking is harmful to your health’ as it currently appears on cigarette packets is not a precise way to caution smokers about the inherent dangers of tobacco smoking.
“The message on cigarette packets should categorically state the dangers of tobacco smoking and not just say that tobacco smoking is harmful to your health,” he said.
Speaking to KNA in his office, the Health Official stated that tobacco products cause almost nine out of every 10 cases of lung cancer, adding that use of tobacco can also cause cancer in every other part of the body, including the mouth, esophagus, bladder, pancreas, stomach, blood and kidney.
“Tobacco consumption is associated with cancer of lungs, cardiovascular diseases, heart attack, cancer of the blood, pneumonia and low birth weight in new born children,” Mwangi disclosed.
At the same time, Mwangi reiterated that tobacco posters bearing the warning ‘No Smoking’ also ought to have a clear message outlining the dangers of tobacco smoking.
“The ‘no smoking’ warning posters that are usually displayed in specified buildings, vehicles among other public areas should have a rather candid message for instance, Tobacco Smoking Causes Cancer,” he added.
Mwangi further lamented that smoker are not the only people who can get cancer from tobacco, but also people around them, including their children, partners, friends, co-workers and others who breathe in that secondary smoke, thus equally becoming susceptible to smoking related diseases.
The Health Official is now calling for behavioral change, especially among the young people in the County who are gradually getting addicted to tobacco smoking.
Advocating for a no smoking behavior change among the residents just as the world recently commemorated the ‘World No Tobacco Day’ on May 31.
However, he lauded the County Government’s efforts for coming up with management and implementation programmes in regards to Tobacco Control.
Murang’a County does not have designated smoking zones, in a deliberate move to discourage smoking, especially in public areas.
“Setting up smoking zones seems to suggest that it’s okay to smoke as long as you do it in the recommended zone,” noted Mwangi, adding that such zones expose the public to secondary smoking.
The Health Officer also observed that Covid-19 measures that require people to wear masks at all times while in public places, seem to have reduced the number of smokers as people do not want to share cigarettes for fear of contracting coronavirus or being arrested for lowering the mask for a puff.
Mwangi was emphatic that all public institutions must display posters or signs prohibiting smoking in their respective premises so as to protect members of the public from secondary smoking.
“Our county community health workers have been carrying out sensitization exercise among members of the public on the dangers of tobacco smoking as well as putting up posters in public places regularly,” he added.
By Anita Omwenga and Purity Mugo