‘The wicked Samaritans’: Big Companies that are initiating Tobacco Smoking to School Pupils in Zambia

By Chris Zumani Zimba

  1. Introduction

page 22.jpgThis is why I call them “WICKED SAMARITANS”, trust me, all tobacco farmers, cigarette manufacturers and suppliers across the world are pretty aware that smoking is a guaranteed path to Self-Suicide as tobacco is dangerously harmful and brutally toxic to human live. By introducing tobacco smoking to minors, children and teenagers around all schools via heavy and colorful adverts in shops, kiosks, food outlets, mobile vendors, it is clear that these tobacco companies are heartlessly only interested in increasing sales and profits as they don’t respect the public health of innocent minors or adhere to the core values of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC); “doing everything in the best interest of the child”.

  1. Big Companies that are initiating Tobacco Smoking to School Pupils in Zambia   

According to a 2018 study that was launched in March, 2019 conducted in the context of the Tobacco Industry Accountability (TIA) Project funded by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) and implemented by the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) and its country partner, Tobacco-Free Association of Zambia (TOFAZA), there are specific tobacco companies and cigarette brands that are initiating Tobacco Smoking to School Pupils and children in Zambia. The study revealed that the tobacco companies or cigarette brands that are heavily advertising their cigarettes and aggressively sponsoring their tobacco related products around Zambian schools targeting pupils are 1. Chelsea, 2. Pull Mall, 3. Guards, 4. Express Royal, 5. Pacific Blue, 6. Peter Stuyvesant, 7. Safari and 8. Monte Carlo among others1.   

In total, the study revealed that 274 permanent kiosks, 220 convenience stores/groceries and 178 mobile vendors around the said 30 schools freely sold and advertised single stick cigarettes and other tobacco brands from 1. Chelsea, 2. Pull Mall, 3. Guards, 4. Express Royal, 5. Pacific Blue, 6. Peter Stuyvesant, 7. Safari and 8. Monte Carlo among others to everyone including children and pupils.   The brutal news is that the study found that sale of single sticks was 100% of schools surveyed with stores in the vicinity selling single sticks of cigarettes; sale of cigarettes in packs of less than 20 was also 100%; sale of smokeless tobacco products was 80%; and sale of fruit-flavoured tobacco products was 30% of the 30 schools surveyed1. In addition, 2 schools had points of sale around them promoting cigarettes through a “buy one, get one free” campaign while 1 school had around it a point of sale promoting tobacco products through gift vouchers1. Certainly, this is fertile environment for initiating pupils and children to smoking and related tobacco products due to overwhelming availability, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and enticement of the products.

Image Couverture.jpgBy presenting harmful cigarettes and toxic tobacco products like nice biscuits and cool sweets before innocent pupils, minors and children, these ‘wicked Samaritans’ i.e. 1. Chelsea, 2. Pull Mall, 3. Guards, 4. Express Royal, 5. Pacific Blue, 6. Peter Stuyvesant, 7. Safari and 8. Monte Carlo among others are guaranteed of winning the initiation of children to lifetime smoking and consequently benefitting huge business profits from their long term buyers, an evil business strategy of getting them young, enslaving them to the harmful product, increasing and sustain profits while caring less to their health, rights and life.

As these children and pupils become ‘seduced lifetime tobacco smokers’, the ‘big tobacco’ in 1. Chelsea, 2. Pull Mall, 3. Guards, 4. Express Royal, 5. Pacific Blue, 6. Peter Stuyvesant, 7. Safari and 8. Monte Carlo among others try by all means to remain mute to the following scientific facts of how smoking affects a human body and why tobacco use kill 50%2 of its users:

  1. Smoking increases the risk of having a stroke by at least 50%, which can cause brain damage and death. And, by smoking, you double your risk of dying from a stroke;
  2. Smoking causes 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
  3. Smoking damages your heart and your blood circulation, increasing the risk of conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels) and cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain);
  4. Smokers have an increased chance of getting stomach cancer or ulcers as well as kidney cancer than non-smokers;
  5. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to your skin. This means that if you smoke, your skin ages more quickly and looks grey and dull. The toxins in your body also cause cellulite;
  6. More than 93% of oropharyngeal cancers (cancer in part of the throat) are caused by smoking. Smoking causes unattractive problems such as bad breath and stained teeth, and can also cause gum disease and damage your sense of taste;
  7. Smoking can cause male impotence, as it damages the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis. It can also damage sperm, reduce sperm count and cause testicular cancer;
  8. When you smoke, the poisons from the tar in your cigarettes enter your blood. This affects blood circulation by increasing the chance of your arteries narrowing and clots forming, which can cause a heart attack or stroke; and
  9. Smoking can cause your bones to become weak and brittle. Women need to be especially careful as they are more likely to suffer from brittle bones (osteoporosis) than non-smokers3.

The above ATCA and TOFAZA study entitled “Big Tobacco, Tiny Targets” was both empirical and scientific.  While the methodology was based on the observation of points of sale and advertising of cigarettes and other tobacco products within 100 meters around 30 schools in Chawama, Kanyama, Chipata, Bauleni, Linda and Chilanga compounds of Lusaka, observation forms were developed and used by a team of experts and researchers from ATCA and TOFAZA to serve as data collection tools while the random selection technique was employed to identify and pick these 30 primary and secondary schools in Zambia’s capital city.

  1. Key Recommendations

Going forward, the Ministry of General Education is the immediate savior; they need to urgently pass a statutory instrument (SI) that will stop ‘big tobacco companies’ from targeting ‘tiny targets’ i.e. minors and pupils in and around schools by restricting any advertisement, sponsorship and display of tobacco and nicotine related products to 500 or 1,000 meters away from schools.

Collective stakeholder support in the domestication of the WHO FCTC through the “Tobacco Products and Nicotine Products Bill” which is in draft form. This bill is a multsectoral proposed legislation for enhancing tobacco control in Zambia in domesticating the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) since the former Northern Rhodesia is one for the first countries to ratify the WHO FCTC in 2008.

Embrace the six (6) FCTC policies to be prioritized in the “Investment Case for Tobacco Control in Zambia” as proposed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) which are:

  1. Increase tobacco taxation to reduce the affordability of tobacco products (FCTC Article 6);
  2. Enforce bans on smoking in all public places to protect people from tobacco smoke (FCTC Article 8);
  3. Mandate that all tobacco products carry health warnings that cover 50% of the packaging (FCTC Article 11);
  4. Implement plain packaging (FCTC Article 11: Guidelines for Implementation);
  5. Institute mass media campaigns against tobacco use (FCTC Article 12); and
  6. Implement and enforce a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, sponsorship, and promotion (FCTC Article 13)4.
  1. Conclusion

The above proposed tobacco control and regulation will significantly help the situation as empirical facts show that Zambia’s poorest and least educated people are most likely to consume tobacco with the harmful leaf and smoke killing 7,142 Zambians yearly; 60% of these annual tobacco related deaths are coming from energetic individuals under the age of 70 years while 800 of these deaths are due to second hand smokers5. And if ‘big tobacco’ is not stopped in advertising around schools and initiating children and ‘tiny targets’ to smoking, the number of tobacco related death will rocky the sky soon or later.  Every year, tobacco costs the Zambian economy K2.8 Billion, an equivalent of 1.2% of the country’s GDP. These costs include K154 Million in healthcare expenditures, K2.7 billion in lost productivity capacities due to premature mortality, disability and workplace smoking5. Time to act is now, not tomorrow.

Chris Zumani Zimba is a prolific Political Scientist, Policy Analyst, Author, Blogger, PhD Scholar, Researcher, Consultant, Public Health and Tobacco Control Advocate. Besides being the CEO and Managing Consultant at Chrizzima Democracy University (CDU) in Zambia, he analyses African politics weekly on Voice of the Cape Town, South Africa every Wednesday at 16:45hours CAT. So far, he has authored more than 10 political and academic books as well as published over 100 well researched articles on African politics and public health. Sometimes, he lectures Political Science-Part Time with University of Zambia (UNZA) and University of Lusaka (UNILUS) outside his usual commitments. Chriszumanizimba.cz@gmail.com or chriszumanizimba@yahoo.com; +260 973 153 815

REFERENCES

  1. African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) and Tobacco-Free Association of Zambia (TOFAZA), (2019:2-5), “Big Tobacco, Tiny Targets”, ATCA and TOFAZA, Lusaka.
  2. ILO, (2017:1) “Agriculture Plantations and other rural Sectors”, accessed from http://www.ilo.org/global/industries-and-sectors/agriculture-plantations-other-rural-sectors/lang–en/index.htm, Retrieved on 12/10/2017
  3. Daily Mail, (2018:1) “Economics vs health: Experts bash tobacco industry”, accessed from https://www.daily-mail.co.zm/economics-vs-health-experts-bash-tobacco-industry/, Retrieved 19/03/2018
  4. Smoke Free (2018:1), “How smoking affects your body”, accessed from https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/smoking-health-problems, Retrieved 20/11/2018; NCBI (2018), “Tobacco (Electronic cigarette): An evil in many faces”, accessed from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4456732/ Retrieved 04/12/2018
  1. Drug Free (2018:1), “WHO Report Smoking and drinking cause of millions of death worldwide”, accessed from https://drugfree.org/learn/drug-and-alcohol-news/who-report-smoking-and-drinking-cause-millions-of-deaths-worldwide/ , Retrieved on 10/01/2018
  1. Ministry of Health, WHO and UNDP, (2019:1-2), “Investment Case for Tobacco Control in Zambia”, a Paper Presentation at Intercontinental Hotel, 27th February, 2019, Lusaka, Zambia

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