Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Illegal tobacco advertising hits the country

The Anti Tobacco Network (ATN), an NGO, has raised a concern about illegal products in the market that promote the use of tobacco, which are deliberately targeted at the youth and children.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the ATN Board Secretary, Dr. Bontle Mbongwe, said the action by Botswana police to confiscate products that advertise tobacco is a welcome move. She said tobacco advertising in any form has a powerful effect on vulnerable groups such as children, young people and women.

She said children and the youth use tobacco due to peer pressure, to look cool, older and mature. According to Mbongwe, studies have shown that there is an increase in the prevalence of use of brands as well as in the prevalence of smoking altogether, after the introduction of brand advertising that appeal to young people.

“The tobacco industry’s business is to make money and they will do everything to avoid abiding by the laws of any country,” said Mbongwe.

She said that there is enough evidence to prove that advertising and marketing of tobacco increases consumption and attracts new users negating public health efforts, adding that despite Botswana having imposed a ban on tobacco advertising, the industry continues to use deceptive tactics to sustain and replace existing customers and create new ones.

Mbongwe said ATN has observed that tobacco companies put their cigarette logos on T-shirts, hats, backpacks and other consumer items popular with children and the youth. She stated that such practices circumvent advertising restrictions and effectively turn wearers into walking billboards.

“Any words written, printed or spoken or film, video, recording or┬á other medium, broadcast or telecast, or pictorial representation, design or device used to encourage the use of or notify the availability of, or promote the sale of any tobacco or tobacco product, or to promote smoking behavior,” is illegal, said Mbongwe.

Borakanelo Police Station Commander, Modise Gabatshwane, has stated that the police have confiscated a lot of products from a lot of individuals. He said the general public should cooperate with the police to expose such practices and products. He said the police have collected a lot of illegal and fake products sold to consumers.

“It is against the law to trade such products and these illegal products are mostly in urban shopping centres,” said Gabatshwane.

He, however, did not have the statistics of the illegal items and products that promote tobacco usage.

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