Campaign to end cigarette use in schools

Cigarette. [iStock]

The Tobacco Control Board of Kenya has started a sensitisation campaign against cigarette smoking in learning institutions. 

According to the board’s chairperson Ms Nancy Gachoka, the campaign will be done in 24 counties where teams will enlighten youth on dangers of drug abuse. 

The targeted counties are Mandera, Wajir, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Nyeri, Murang’a, Nakuru, Baringo, Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma, Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, Nyamira, Kisii, Nandi, Trans-Nzoia and Uasin Gishu.

While presiding over a one-day workshop in Machakos town, Ms Gachoka said smoking was rampant among Kenyan youths in schools and outside. “Global statistics indicate that tobacco consumption kills 8 million people annually,” said Ms Gachoka.

She added that 80,000 to 100,000 youth engaged in cigarette smoking daily and that half of the tobacco related deaths occurred to people aged between 30 and 60.

According her, about 6,000 cigarette smokers and consumers of tobacco and other related drugs die annually in Kenya. “During our campaign, we have, however, experienced some resistance from certain interests. But this will not stop us from achieving our goal,” she said.

Ms Gachoka regretted that smoking among the youth was encouraged by parents who sent children to buy them the cigarettes. “The other most dangerous scenario is when some parents smoke cigarettes in their houses before the children, who unfortunately inhale the harmful smoke,” she added.

In schools, she said, cartels collude with students to sneak in drugs and lure innocent children. “Mostly, the cartels take advantage when schools are being opened where they interact with the students to sell their merchandise to them. This, in turn, is leading to many school dropouts, burdening parents and government.

She urged government to crack the whip on manufacturers who advertise cigarettes. 

Ms Dorcas Kiptui, a Ministry of Health programmes officer, discouraged tobacco use to reduce cases of asthma, cancer, bronchitis and other respiratory complications.

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