Tobacco companies frustrate Africa's fight against smoking..

February 11, 2010 KAMPALA, Uganda -- Tobacco companies are frustrating Africa's fight against smoking, which has left millions of people dead, a top health official said here on Tuesday, February 10th. Sam Zaramba, the director general of Health Services told a one-day international conference on tobacco that companies use corporate social responsibility programs as a strategy to prevent effective regulatory and legislative measures.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given a $7 million grant to the American Cancer Society aimed at curbing the tobacco industry's inroads in Africa. This grant follows a $10 million grant to the World Health Organization in December. (Gates Foundation ramps up tobacco control efforts in Africa, Posted by Kristi Heim, The Seattle Times, 2/3/2010)

"We know that in the struggle against tobacco, we face a powerful enemy, the tobacco industry. They are well established, they continue expanding and they have many resources," he said in a statement read for him by Sheila Ndyanabangi, the program manager for mental health and control of substance abuse. "We, therefore, need to be aware of the industry's activities and be able to counteract them effectively," he said.

He said tobacco use has remained the single largest preventable cause of death in the world, killing nearly 5 million people annually. According to the World Health Organization, 10 million people will die per year by 2030 from tobacco with 70 percent of these deaths occurring in developing countries.

Zaramba said 80 percent of the world's 1.3 billion smokers live in developing countries where tobacco consumption is on the rise.

He said for fear of losing profits tobacco companies have continued to oppose what have been proven to be effective public health measures aimed at stopping the tobacco epidemic.

Zaramba: "We need to stop the tobacco industry from continuing to make an indecent profit that ends up in the hands of the few, while the poorest people suffer the consequences. Let us be determined and act so that we can prevent all the preventable deaths caused by tobacco," he added.

The conference dubbed the African Tobacco Situation Analysis drew over 30 tobacco activists from various African countries including Togo, Benin, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Botswana and Uganda.

Reference: Tobacco companies frustrate Africa's fight against smoking: official,, 2/9/2010.

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