“Tobacco use is a sustainable development challenge’


-says UNDP Resident Rep

January 25, 2019

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

UNDP Resident Representative,Samuel Doe

Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has stated that the use of tobacco is a sustainable development challenge as it long term effects cut cross all the Sustainable Development Goals.

According to Samuel Doe, if the SDGs were to be achieved, then countries, including Sierra Leone, must do something urgently about the use of tobacco.

He was speaking yesterday at the Bintumani International Conference Centre in Freetown during the official launch of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) 2030 project.

The project, which is being funded by the United Kingdom government, seeks to support the selected 15 countries, including Sierra Leone, to reduce tobacco use.

In his statement, Doe said he was shocked to have heard that the percentage of tobacco use in the country was high by the global standards, because when one works down the streets, it was difficult to see people smoking.

“Tobacco is a major health challenge and lots of the diseases, including cancer and diabetes its causes are left with the society and government to take on the burden. We need to approach this issue from a governance lens,” he said.

He spoke about the need to look at the possibility of transferring the cost of tobacco to those who use it by making the regulation more stringent to curtail it sales.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Donald Bash-Taqi , disclosed that the new tobacco legislation that has been developed will protect the health of the public through the implementation of laws that ban direct and indirect tobacco advertising, bring in new taxes.

He said the regulation will also promote smoke free zones, particularly in work and public places.

“Sierra Leone happens to be one of the 15 successful countries selected for this project out of a total of 55. We are grateful to the number of partners, who have helped us achieved this feat,” he said.

British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Guy Warrington, noted that the use of tobacco in all its different forms was extremely dangerous to the health of the nation.

“Tobacco is a serious barrier to national development as drives poverty and damages the environment. According to the UNDP, tobacco is a major barrier to economic development at both national and global levels,” he said.

Warrington said the UK government was proud to be funding the project to the tune of 15million pounds to reduce tobacco use in low and middle income countries, including Sierra Leone.

He added that Sierra Leone has not yet achieved a great deal in terms of reducing tobacco use.

Technical Officer at the WHO-FCTF Secretariat, Patrick Musavuli, stated that tobacco is a risk factor for non-communicable diseases, as well as one of the world’s leading causes of premature death.

“Not only that tobacco is harmful to smokers and non-smokers, but causes risk to national development. This project serves as a comprehensive blueprint for governments to reduce tobacco use in their countries,” he said.