AFRICA – World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti has urged African governments to impose environmental tax levies on tobacco across the value and supply chains to address related environmental damage posed by tobacco consumption.

The global health organization has called for African nations to accelerate implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in its efforts to reduce tobacco consumption.

The framework provides the necessary guidance to advance the creation of smoke-free environments, create programmes to support tobacco users to quit and support for the application of excise tax and other financial counter measures.

WHO revealed that 44 out of WHO African Region’s 47 countries have ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which commits them to adopting effective and evidence-based measures to curb tobacco consumption.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti emphasized that reducing tobacco consumption is a key catalyst towards realizing the health-related Sustainable Development Goals along with benefits go far beyond health as the environmental evidence illustrates.

In addition, the World Health Organization has acknowledged remarkable measures to curb tobacco consumption by African countries in commemoration of the 2022 World No Tobacco Day under the theme “Tobacco: Threat to our environment”

The Kenyan government has partnered with WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to create the Tobacco-Free Farms project which supports farmers to switch from tobacco to alternative crops that eliminate health risks associated with tobacco growing.

UN agencies and the Kenyan government will provide training, inputs such as seeds and fertilizer together with a ready market for their harvest through the World Food Programme’s local procurement initiatives to ensure land is used much more efficiently and ultimately promote food security.

So far, 330 Kenyan farmers have switched to growing beans with the first harvest yielding more than 200 metric tons and the second season currently reaching more than another 1000 farmers. We have plans to roll this programme out to other tobacco-growing countries in Africa,” WHO stated.

Moreover, the project seeks to address environmental impacts of tobacco farming such as massive use of water which is a scarce resource across most parts of the African continent along with large-scale deforestation and contamination of air and water systems.

Meanwhile, the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has established a National Technical Committee (TC) to develop South African National Standards to guide the use of e-cigarette and vaping products.

The Bureau will be responsible for setting guidelines and promoting standardization for vaping production in South Africa with a focus on non-tobacco products covering electronic vaping products and their components including cartridges and reservoirs.

In addition, South Africa’s Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill is currently undergoing public enquiry which proposes stricter e-cig regulations along with restrictions on the use, marketing and sales of certain tobacco products in the country.

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