Tobacco board says local farmers, users most exposed

By Philip Mwakio

Tobacco farmers and consumers in Kenya are among the people most exposed to the plant and its harmful effects in the world.

An official of the Tobacco Control Board said in Mombasa on Tuesday that farmers and consumers continue to farm and use the crop despite knowing the grave health dangers associated with it.

According to the Tobacco Control Board Chairman Peter Amollo Odhiambo, his board is committed to ensuring that Kenyans do not suffer from tobacco related diseases like cancer.

“We are up against very stiff opposition from both multinational tobacco firms and farmers themselves but we will not relent to ensure that Kenya is a tobacco free state,” said Prof Odhiambo.

He added that they are encouraging tobacco farmers to look to other alternative food crops like fruits, ground nuts, cassava and soya beans.

Prof Odhiambo was speaking in Mombasa during a one day sensitisation workshop for stakeholders drawn from the police, Provincial Administration, and ministries of Health, Youth and Sports on the Tobacco Control Act 2007 and draft policy.

“Other than cancer, tobacco has also been associated with ailments like heart diseases, high blood pressure and severe damage to liver leading to death,” he said.

The Tobacco Board Secretariat Alternate Secretary Ibrahim Langolomoi said the board has been on a countrywide tour to sensitise the public on what the Tobacco Act and policy entails.