The tobacco epidemic is recognised as one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever encountered.

This statement was made by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Kalumbi Shangula, during the commemoration of World No Tobacco Day, held in Oshakati.

According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco use is responsible for killing up to half of its users.

About six million people die each year due to tobacco-related causes.

Of these deaths, more than five million are directly attributed to tobacco use, while over 600,000 are said to be the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

It is important to note that secondhand smoke is twice as harmful, and people should be informed and warned about its dangers.

During a speech delivered on his behalf, Dr. Shangula highlighted that nearly 80% of the one billion smokers worldwide reside in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths is most severe.

"Meanwhile, tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of healthcare and hinder economic development. In some countries, children from poor households are frequently employed in tobacco farming to provide for the family's income. These children are especially vulnerable to green tobacco sickness."

Dr. Shangula emphasises the urgent need to protect the present and future generations of Namibia from the detrimental health, social, environmental, and economic consequences associated with tobacco consumption and exposure.

"The commemoration of World No Tobacco Day is yet another milestone for Namibia towards achieving the goals and objectives of the WHO framework convention on tobacco control, the WHO FCTC."

This year's World No Tobacco Day commemoration is held under the theme "We Need Food, Not Tobacco."

The theme sheds light on the tobacco industry's harmful actions in replacing sustainable crops with tobacco, which exacerbates the global food crisis.

Furthermore, the theme emphasises the importance of governments ending subsidies for tobacco cultivation and reallocating the saved resources towards crop substitution programmes.

"Tobacco smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, responsible for over two-thirds of lung cancer deaths globally. Second-hand smoke exposure at home or at work also increases the risk of lung cancer."



Tonateni Haimbodi