EXPOSING TOBACCO-Through the Africa Eye

  • Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
  • Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
  • Around 80% of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.

In the African region:

  • 13 million women use tobacco products, including chewing tobacco and snuff
  • 13% of young adolescent girls use tobacco products. Recent trends show an increase in tobacco use among girls. In the past, the prevalence of tobacco use among girls was lower than the rate for boys. But recent studies have shown the prevalence rate among girls (4.6% to 36.6%) has become as high as for boys (7.8% to 36.5%).
  • About 22,000 women die every year from tobacco-related diseases which are preventable.
  • Between 2002 and 2030, tobacco-attributable deaths are projected to double in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), including in Africa.
  • Of adult deaths due to second-hand smoke, about 2/3 are among women (64%) — women working and living with men who smoke.


Image for post

Did you know that tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year?

More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Did you also know that most tobacco users are addicts?

Big Tobacco’s fastest-growing markets are in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean where regulations are lax and populations are growing, according to the latest edition of the Tobacco Atlas.

China remains the largest consumer of tobacco products, although the number is declining.


Image for post

Nearly 1 billion people around the world light up cigarettes every day, a new study finds.

Addiction is one of the major factors that fuels smoking worldwide. Addiction according to the American Psychiatric Association is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life.

Smoking has declined in high-income countries, which the report ascribes to increased regulation, monitoring, and taxation.

But in countries with less stringent monitoring and regulation, tobacco consumption is increasing. In sub-Saharan Africa, consumption increased by 52% between 1980 and 2016, or 164 billion cigarettes to 250 billion. Lesotho has seen a significant spike in smoking from 15% of its population in 2004 to 54% in 2015. The authors attribute this to aggressive marketing by tobacco companies.

Michael Bloomberg, former New York mayor and a strong anti-tobacco advocate is cited in Quartz Africa saying “Raising taxes on tobacco is the most effective way to drive down smoking rates, particularly among young people,” he said. “It is also the least widespread of all the proven tobacco control policies.”


Image for post

However, Imperial Tobacco Group, the world’s largest tobacco company, denied that it was targeting African countries. “This is a myth perpetrated by anti-tobacco lobbyists,” said Simon Evans, group media relations manager for Imperial Brands. “We sell our brands in markets where there’s a legitimate and existing demand for tobacco and take the same responsible approach in, for example, in Africa and Asia as we do in any Western territory.”

He said that the company was also increasingly focused on next-generation products, such as e-cigarettes which are equally harmful since the active ingredient in tobacco, that is, nicotine is still present.

It is interesting to note that, Tobacco has no known health benefit. On the contrary, it causes disease, disability and premature death. Tobacco usage by primary or secondary smokers can affect every vital organ in the human body which includes most cardiovascular diseases, respiratory malfunctions, all the different types of cancers: Bladder, Blood (acute myeloid leukaemia), Cervix, Colon and rectum (colorectal), Oesophagus, Kidney and ureter, Larynx, Liver, Oropharynx (includes parts of the throat, tongue, soft palate, and the tonsils), Pancreas, Stomach, Trachea, bronchus, and lung.

What is more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) argue that Smoking can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant. It can also affect her baby’s health before and after birth.


Image for post

In women, Smoking increases risks for Preterm (early) delivery, Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth), Low birth weight, Sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death), Ectopic pregnancy and Orofacial clefts in infants.

Furthermore, Smoking can also affect men’s sperm, which can reduce fertility

and also increase risks for birth defects and miscarriage.

Also, Smoking can affect bone health.


Image for post

Women past childbearing years who smoke have weaker bones than women who never smoked. They are also at greater risk for broken bones.

Moreover, Smoking affects the health of your teeth and gums and can cause tooth loss.

Similarly, Smoking can increase your risk for cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens that makes it hard for you to see). It can also cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is damage to a small spot near the center of the retina, the part of the eye needed for central vision.1

Likewise, Smoking is a cause of type 2 diabetes mellitus and can make it harder to control. The risk of developing diabetes is 30–40% higher for active smokers than non-smokers.

Equally, Smoking causes general adverse effects on the body, including inflammation, decreased immune function and rheumatoid arthritis.

To conclude, the adverse effects of smoking on the human body outweighs its benefits which is more pleasure related addictions. Hence, one should note that every stick of tobacco one smokes deducts relevant years off your precious but limited life. At Raha Initiative we are a strong advocate against tobacco usage among all age brackets.





Say no to INDIA HEMP





Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. QuickStats: Number of Deaths from 10 Leading Causes — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2013:62(08);155. [accessed 2017 Apr 20].

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General, 2001 [accessed 2017 Apr 20].





By Jennifer Moffat

For Raha Initiative

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please reload

Please Wait