HARARE – The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for a ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in Zimbabwe to prevent young people from starting to smoke.
This comes amid damning new research claiming almost two in every 10 children aged between 13 and 15 in Zimbabwe were smoking in a shocking national average.
The Zimbabwe Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) research was commissioned by the ministry of Health and Child Care and carried out by a team led by Shungu Munyati of the University of Zimbabwe.
WHO, a UN agency, said sophisticated marketing techniques were ensnaring young people through fashion magazines, films, the Internet, and by concerts and sporting events.
WHO country representative David Okello said Zimbabwe should look at ways of monitoring and regulating advertisements and sponsorship from tobacco companies.
“Based on the findings of the 2014 GYTS, we propose the following four broad recommendations which require concerted multi-sectoral efforts by the ministries Health and Child Care and Primary and Secondary Education, working together with other arms of government and stakeholders, to monitor and regulate tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, especially targeting youths, whilst working on totally banning these practices in line with the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” Okello said.
“This also includes prohibition of all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship that promote a tobacco product by any means that are false, misleading, deceptive or likely to create an erroneous impression about its characteristics, health effects, hazards or emissions.”
Okello added that as the global tobacco market rapidly dwindles; they have noted a tendency by the tobacco industry to aggressively create new markets in the developing world by targeting youths with tobacco adverting, promotion and sponsorship activities.
Munyati, a consultant assistant director-general at Biomedical Research and Training Institute, said tobacco control laws needed better implementation.
“What we actually have is that about 20 percent said they had some tobacco advertising material, be it a T-shirt, cap that they had been given to them by tobacco companies, not anti-tobacco but for tobacco” Munyati said.
“We see that most tobacco companies sponsor school events, maybe because they are the ones with the money, so they sponsor, and if you’re sponsoring, obviously you are promoting the use of that item.
“So you see that tobacco brand names are used for non-tobacco products, so that is what’s happening in the country and we need to work on it.”