Board ups war on tobacco use in schools

 Nancy Gachoka

Tobacco Control Board chairperson Nancy Gachoka says many children are introduced to tobacco smoking at home. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Tobacco Control Board (TCB) will from tomorrow start campaigns to stop the consumption of the drug among schoolgoing children and the youth.

Board chairperson Nancy Gachoka said thousands of youths and children are being lured into consuming the drug at a tender age oblivious of the negative effects it will have on their health.

“Children are being introduced to tobacco smoking at a tender age of seven, majority of others are introduced into using the drug after they complete their Standard Eight national examinations and by the time they are joining Form One, they are already addicted,” said Ms Gachoka in Machakos.

She said the sad part is that some of the children try their first tobacco smoking or sniffing at home when sent by their parents to purchase cigarettes on their behalf.

In schools and universities, she said, students have turned to the traditional method of consuming the tobacco such as sniffing and chewing.

In secondary schools, students have collaborated with local tobacco sellers who supply the drug to them at night.

The drug is also sneaked to the schools during opening days where students hide it inside their bags.

In universities, students sneak the drugs into hotels where they sell and introduce it to others, especially the first years. The consumption of the drug is more rampant to students living in hostels outside the campuses.

Speaking during the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) conference in Mombasa last month, principals revealed that the use of drugs such as tobacco and bhang is rampant in schools hence the main cause of unrest.

The heads said students as young as those in Form Ones have been caught in schools with bhang, tobacco and other drug-related substances.

Ms Gachoka said it is against the rampant use that the board has planned awareness campaigns in 24 counties where they will meet with youths and smokers to sensitise them on the need to stop the circulation and consumption of tobacco.

The targeted counties are Garissa, Mandera, Wajir, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Nyeri, Muranga, Kirinyaga, Nyandarua, Nakuru, Baringo,Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma, Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Uasin Gishu, Nandi and Trans Nzoia.

Ms Gachoka said the board has experienced resistance due to commercial interests.

However, she said the fight against the consumption of the drug is unstoppable as tobacco is a killer drug which must be stopped.

“The tobacco manufactures should not be allowed to advertise their products as the law prohibits the consumption of tobacco,” she said.

Global statistics estimates that tobacco kills eight million persons annually while between 80,000 to 100,000 youths start smoking every day.

The statistics also reveal that half of the tobacco-related deaths occur between the ages of 30 and 69 .

In Kenya, more than 6,000 people die of tobacco-related diseases every year. Programme officer at the Ministry of Health, Dorcas Kiptui, said tobacco smoking and consumption is affecting thousands of people, especially the youths, and is causing serious respiratory diseases and other health related negative effects.

“Long time effects include respiratory diseases such as Covid-19, bronchitis and asthma, cardiac and circulatory diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, obstructive peripheral vascular diseases, reproductive conditions such as infertility and impotence, throat cancer, stomach, intestine and kidney diseases.”


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