As the world marks World No Tobacco Day on Wednesday, the World Health Organisation, WHO, has pushed out a message supporting a campaign against tobacco farming as a ploy to discourage smoking.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said in the message obtained by DAILY POST that the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health challenges the world has ever faced, killing more than eight million people worldwide every year.
“While the number of people using tobacco products is decreasing in other parts of the world, it is rising in the Africa Region,” the WHO message said.
It added that the number of tobacco users in the WHO African Region increased from an estimated 64 million adult users in 2000 to 73 million in 2018.
“This is partly due to the increased production of tobacco products as well as aggressive marketing by the tobacco industry,” WHO said, adding, “Today, 31 May 2023, the World Health Organization joins the rest of the international community to commemorate World No Tobacco Day. This day provides us with the opportunity to highlight the dangers associated with tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
“This year’s theme is ‘Grow Food, Not Tobacco’. This theme aims to raise awareness about alternative crop production and marketing opportunities for tobacco farmers and encourage them to grow sustainable, nutritious crops.
“The theme also seeks to expose the tobacco industry’s efforts to interfere with attempts to substitute tobacco growing with sustainable crops, thereby worsening the global food crisis. It calls on all of us to explore how food and agricultural policies make adequate nutritious food and healthy diets available while reducing tobacco production.”