The Founding Secretary of the Anti-Tobacco Network (ATN), Bontle Mbongwe, says the government of Botswana, through Ntlo ya Dikgosi, should adopt comprehensive tobacco products legislation by 2012.┬á┬á
Addressing members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi on Tuesday, Mbongwe said ATN recognizes the devastating impact tobacco has on human health, the environment and the economy.
She added that tobacco is linked to poverty and underdevelopment. According to Mbongwe, ATN is convinced that if tobacco users can be assisted to quit and young people discouraged to take up smoking, the damage to health and the loss to basic income can be substantially reduced.┬á She added that it can result in poverty alleviation and better economic development in Botswana.
“The legislation should prohibit the sale of tobacco products, licensing, deceptive labels on tobacco products such as light and mild,” said Mbongwe.
She stated that in the next five years, ATN wants to lobby for the raising of the tax on tobacco and its price to discourage use by children and poor people, and to use such revenues to implement interventions to assist tobacco products in Botswana. She added that they want to work with the government in developing measures to address illicit trade of tobacco in Botswana. ┬á
“The tobacco industry also increased the number of informal businesses selling cigarettes near schools and making cigarettes available to all,” she said.
For her part, ATN Board Chairman, Professor Nthabiseng Phaladze, pleaded with members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi to further tobacco education in both urban and rural areas. She labeled Chiefs as influential leaders who could assist in tobacco control.
“The current Smoking Act of 1992 prohibits the sale of tobacco products to and by persons below 18,” said Phaladzi.
Commenting on the presentation, Kgosi Lotlaamoreng said he had observed that a lot of law enforcement officers are not aware of the current Smoking Act, hence there are very few reported cases.
Kgosi Pekenene said he would like to see the tobacco industry totally killed in Botswana, adding that there are a lot of people who need help on how to quit smoking.
Kgosi Phokontsi Seeletso said that he had observed that most smokers are illiterate therefore they smoke tobacco without reading the messages written on cigarettes packets.
“It is evident enough that the government is spending a lot of money on medical treatment on cancer and heart diseases due to smoking of tobacco,” said Kgosi Kgomotso Boiditswe.┬á┬á