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Tobacco Industry Is An Enemy To Botswana - Mbongwe

SHINGIRAI MADONDO
Cigarretes
Anti-Tobacco Network (ATN) executive director, Dr Bontle Mbongwe last Thursday called upon the different government institutions to reject any sort of partnership with the "deceptive" tobacco industry.

Describing the tobacco industry as a great impediment towards the country of the obligations it has to fulfill regarding the implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Mbongwe reminded the government to remain steadfast in its quest.   

“Our biggest enemy is the tobacco industry,” said Mbongwe during the commemoration of the World No Tobacco Day in Francistown. She congratulated government for stopping partnerships with Japan Tobacco and British American Tobacco (BAT).

Japan Tobacco had partnered with the government through the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security on food security issues while Botswana Police Service (BPS) got into a partnership with BAT under the guise of curbing crime.

Mbongwe cautioned Business Botswana (BB) against falling into a trap and end up being used by BAT to support deceptive campaigns such as youth smoking prevention campaigns.

She said it is all a fallacy that BAT is selling to BB.  On the global front, Mbongwe expressed disgust at learning that Philip Morris International – a tobacco distributing company - is publishing advertisements repeating the company’s claimed commitment to a smoke-free future.

“At the same time that it claims to want a smoke-free future, Philip Morris is aggressively marketing cigarettes across the globe, especially in low and middle income countries and fighting proven policies that reduce smoking and save lives,” she said.

Despite the repeated claims by the tobacco industry of

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their commitment to a smoke-free future, Mbongwe said BAT and Phillip Morris make most of their revenue from selling cigarettes, they brag to be the world’s best-selling cigarette brands (Marlboro) and work aggressively to expand the global cigarette market.

Locally, Mbongwe said tobacco companies do everything within their power to promote their cigarettes in ways that appeal to children, introducing flavoured cigarettes, conducting aggressive marketing near primary schools.

“These (BAT and Phillip Morris) companies are state enemies because instead of protecting lives, they destroy them.

They only offer empty promises. It is time we do something about sponsored hooker night parties urgently,” she said.

As part of the obligation of implementing FCTC, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Ruth Maphorisa said the government is in the process of reviewing its current legislation.

“We are in the process of reviewing the current Control of Smoking Act of 1992 amended in 2004 to make it compliant to the articles of the (World Health Organisation) WHO FCTC,” said Maphorisa saying it shall include articles on smoke-free environments and graphic warning labels. 

  The president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Mat Meyers recently said: “It is a sick joke for Philip Morris to say that ‘we should promote every day as World No Smoking Day’, when the company’s primary mission every day is to sell more deadly cigarettes”.



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