Despite a global downward trend, smoking continues to increase in Africa. According to the latest Tobacco Atlas report, this phenomenon is encouraged by the aggressive advertising campaigns of cigarette manufacturers.
Africa is the new target of the tobacco industry, according to a new report by the Tobacco Atlas unveiled Thursday, March 8 at the 17th World Conference “Tobacco or health”, which brought together more than 3,000 experts in the fight against tobacco from March 8 to 9 in the city of Cape Town, South Africa.
To encourage the consumption of cigarettes, the tobacco lobby takes advantage of the lack of anti-smoking laws in a large number of African countries, explains the report published in The Tobacco Atlas. “The tobacco industry deliberately targets countries with low anti-smoking legislation and exploits governments, farmers and vulnerable populations in Africa,” the report says.
According to the authors of this document, which list global data related to tobacco, sub-Saharan Africa is particularly affected by the rise in massive tobacco consumption, which is explained by a significant population growth… but not just that.
According to Pascal Diethelm, vice president of the French National Committee against smoking, cigarette manufacturers are targeting African populations by resorting to aggressive marketing strategies. They use strategies like sponsoring sports and cultural events, mass advertising campaigns… etc. They even get some nightclubs to distribute packets of cigarettes at the entrance.
These practices that have been going on since the 1980s have sometimes been done with the complicity of the public authorities, deplores Pascal Diethelm. “In Burkina Faso, there is a very good law to effectively fight against smoking. But the company that has a virtual monopoly in the country, Imperial Tobacco, has decided to ignore the law and continue to sell the old packages in violation of the law,” he said.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of smokers in Africa stands at 77 million. In a report released in July 2017, the WHO reports that these numbers are up 40% from 2010 by 2025, which would be the largest global increase in smoking. These increases are particularly important in Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon and Sierra Leone.