Miss Botswana 2007, Malebogo Marumoagae has been appointed the face of the war against smoking by the Anti-Tobacco Network (ATN).
The beauty queen has been engaged in order to propel the organisation’s image as it fights against the use of tobacco and its products in the country.
ATN interim executive director, Dr Bontle Mbongwe said during the organisation’s Annual General Meeting in Mokolodi on Friday that the idea of having a public figure of Marumoagae’s stature was to communicate especially with the youth. The move is meant to prove that beauty and being ‘cool’ are achievable not necessarily through ‘women lighting up’. “We have chosen her because she does not have any ties with the tobacco industry, as well as the fact that she lives a clean and smoke free life,” Mbongwe said. Last year, ATN appointed Dr Joy Phumaphi as the association’s celebrity endorser.
Perhaps it is not too late for Marumoagae, known for her brains and good manners, to neutralise the propaganda of Edward Bernays, who through his public relations prowess, popularised smoking especially among women in his renowned ‘light-up’ campaign.
The ATN secretariat has said that though their research established that most teenagers did not smoke, the rate at which young females are lighting-up is a cause of concern.
The organisation was established in 2011 to ensure that the country complies with the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC) - the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organisation in response to the tobacco use. It has decided to use public figures to advance the anti-tobacco war. Among others, ATN seeks to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in all enclosed public places by 2019 and halt tobacco use among adults and youth in 70 percent of the smoking population by the same year.
Meanwhile, Mbongwe told ATN members on Friday that the government has been slow to adopt a more comprehensive Tobacco Products Control Act. She said the state of affairs has resulted in the tobacco industry aggressively targeting key political and administrative leaders, the youth and the general public in the name of corporate social responsibility. She added that the industry was taking advantage of the legislation gaps to promote tobacco as a profitable business at the cost of public health, despite the fact that Botswana is not a tobacco growing country.