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Report Predicts Africa’s Tobacco Use Will Double Within 12 Years Without Intervention

“Africa faces a surge in cancer deaths unless action is taken in the next decade to stem rising smoking levels in a continent where anti-tobacco laws remain rare, U.S. scientists said Wednesday,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 11/11). A joint report (.pdf) released by the Global Smokefree Partnership and the American Cancer Society (ACS) found that “nearly 90 percent of people on the continent remain without meaningful protection from secondhand smoke,” according to a press release (11/11).

The report highlighted recent efforts by several countries in Africa to introduce strict anti-smoking laws, according to Agence France-Presse. “Kenya and Nigeria have in the past year enacted legislation against smoking in public places while South Africa has had the laws since 2007, but the report also said there were obstacles to the anti-smoking measures,” the AFP writes (11/11).

Without intervention, the report predicts “[m]ore than half the continent will double its tobacco use within 12 years,” Reuters writes. “For the first time in history, we have the tools in hand to prevent a pandemic,” Otis W. Brawley, the ACS’s chief medical officer, said in a statement with the report, which was presented at a cancer conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. “Smoke-free public places are one example of a low-cost and extremely effective intervention that must be implemented now to protect health.”

“Over the past four decades, smoking rates have fallen in rich countries like the United States, Britain and Japan but have been rising in much of the developing world,” Reuters writes (11/11).

The price of cigarettes also figures in to tobacco use, Thomas Glynn of the Global Smokefree Partnership, said, VOA News reports. “While cigarettes are growing more expensive in rich nations, in part to drive down tobacco use, they’re relatively cheap in Africa,” the news service writes. “We have very good economic data showing that if you do raise the price of cigarettes through taxes people will smoke less and people will be exposed to second hand smoke a good deal less, including children,” Glynn said.

The article includes information on additional contributing factors to increased tobacco use in Africa and the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (De Capua, 11/11).