Breathe Easy : Legislating Tobacco Use

I heard a story yesterday that was nothing short of peculiar. A resident in Mityana with a smoking problem. I know some might say smoking is not a problem but let me get to this man’s story.

Radio goes a long way in disseminating information. Some of the stations we might never tune are doing a great deal in informing and educating people. On his show on CBS FM 88.8, Patricko Mujuuka could have never imagined the words he was saying would go on to have an impact bigger than he.

He shared something about the cost of a cigarette stick being the same as that of a clay brick. And that one might be able to build a house if they bought bricks instead of cigarettes.

The resident of Mityana was listening in that morning and took his advice. He built two rooms consequently and from  taking 4 packs a day and now has cut down to a few sticks.

This might sound petty. Yet to this man, it is a big change. Less smoking, better living.

We need our fixes, how we need them badly. And how tempted I am to not look at your fix because I have mine as well. I am tempted to live and let live. Yet in doing so, I am dying and letting die.

All the man needed was some knowledge to make informed decisions. He is making them and improving his life.

Uganda’s population is a young population and constant exposure to smoking can greatly affect its longevity and productivity. This exposure is not only in terms of smoking but advertising, labelling, selling of tobacco products that can lure them into what most times becomes a habit that is hard to break. You end up having a society likely to fall sick from the effects of tobacco and unable to receive good medical attention due to poor health systems yet the government makes a profit on tobacco. Even when the smoker is well to do, his smoking might compromise the relationships he has because some may not be comfortable with it.

And there is the issue of addiction. It’s hard to stop once you start. There should be facilities in place to assist those that need to stop. However, besides facilities, the very understanding and goodwill of society should be available to offer psychological support. Nonetheless, it would seem more pertinent that this be prevented from happening in the first place. I know how frustrating addictions can be!

I understand the need for legislation. Even though, to me, this goes further than just legislation. It precedes the heart of man in terms of needing a fix. A quick jumpstart.

There is lobbying for the passing of the Tobacco Control Bill.

There are five key things the Bill would like to address.

1. Protection from exposure  to tobacco secondhand smoke by making all indoor public places, workplaces, and public transport 100% smoke-free.

2. Comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

3. Accurate and visible tobacco product packaging and labelling that includes health warning.

4. Effective use of taxation measures that result in increases in the price of tobacco products so as to reduce demand.

5. Protection of public health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.

All the above speak two things to me. Can we protect the non smokers from the dangers of smoking? Is it too much to ask from those that want to smoke, to do it without endangering others?

The gentleman in Mityana might be far removed from Kampala  but he is fighting a good fight. A fight that involves healthier living, better economic decisions and better relationships with those around him.


 @tobaccoctrlug (Facebook) are finding ways to make sure this is done ! Click on the links to engage, be informed and spread the information.


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