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Cigarette traders 'targeting pupils'

By Brigid Chemweno | January 26th 2017

Tobacco firms are using tactics like selling cigarettes near schools and along walkways leading to schools to market their products to learners, a new survey shows.

The report released by the Consumer Information Network Wednesday reveals that all schools surveyed had a retail outlet (shops and kiosks) selling cigarettes within a 250-metre radius.

“The display of cigarettes at children’s eye-level together with snacks, sweets and soft drinks attracts school children. Similarly, the sale of single cigarette sticks make cigarettes affordable to school children,” says the report.

No warning signs

Eight out of 10 of the retailers selling cigarettes within 250 metres of primary schools surveyed, according to the report, sell products that do not display warning signs against the sale of cigarettes to persons under the age of 18 years.

In addition, 92 per cent of those selling cigarettes around schools sell single sticks, making them affordable for school children.

“It should be noted that the sale and promotion of tobacco products around schools encourages school children to smoke. The health effects of tobacco use and addiction are not disputed and with the growing awareness of these effects among adults, the tobacco industry is turning to school children to maintain and grow their market.

“This must be stopped immediately and punished in order to protect children from the effects and use (of tobacco),” said Consumer Information Network CEO Samuel Ochieng.

Survey sample

The study was conducted by Consumer Information Network and John Hopkins University, with the support of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids last June. It involved more than 100 primary schools in Nairobi.

Mr Ochieng called on the national and county governments to develop and enforce legislation to protect school children against smoking cigarettes and prosecute the players who contravened the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act (2007).

The Act prohibits the sale of single cigarette sticks and the open display of tobacco products along school paths.

“The Health and Education ministries must take the lead in protecting our school children. Educators, parents and civil society groups, including child welfare organisations, must rise up against this,” he concluded.

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