The University of Botswana (UB) will hold a two-day training on tobacco control for journalists and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Francistown on 28 and 29 September.
The objective of the training is to enhance the capacity of journalists and NGOs to control tobacco use as well as facilitate collaboration between the media and tobacco control advocates in Botswana.
The training will act as a platform for stimulating the setting up of tobacco control journalists and an NGO network in Botswana to enhance implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), in which Botswana is a signatory, having ratified it in 2003 and in 2005.
Bontle Mbongwe, a Board Member of the Africa Tobacco Control Regional Initiative and a Health Sciences lecturer at the UB, said the FCTC wanted to engage the media and NGOs to sensitize the public on issues surrounding the tobacco industry and smoking by minors and the public at large.
“By engaging the media and NGOs in such an initiative, there will be much more public education and awareness on the negative impact caused by cigarette smoking,” Mbongwe revealed.
She added that issues of tobacco advertising need not only the government, but the media and the NGOs to play the watchdog role in ensuring compliance with tobacco legislation and FCTC provisions.
Mbongwe said the FCTC would also ensure that the government involves NGOs in the fight against tobacco smoking.
“The tobacco industry seems to be going against government efforts of try to cut down and sensitize the public on smoking,” she said.
She took issue with some night clubs and kiosks in the country that sell cigarettes to children under the age of 18, which is unlawful. Mbongwe further revealed that another concern is the number of children exposed to smoking at an early age due to behavior learnt from parents and elders.
Involvement of stake holders like the media, she said, would help journalists network and understand the provisions of the cigarette industry in Botswana. This would further assist journalists with the skills of investigating issues that centre on violation of tobacco legislation.