No Tobacco Day: “Two patients out of five are hospitalized due to smoking”

Smokers in public places should be prohibited

Smokers in public places should be prohibited

“I don’t care about the smoking consequences”, says a man who has been smoking for ten years. He says that he has tried to avoid smoking in public spaces not to fill them with smoke.  “I know that it is smelly for some people. I have tried to avoid it but in vain”, he says.

Another smoker says it is not easy to give up smoking. “I have been a smoker over twenty years and I am not sure if I am going to give up smoking”, he says.

Innocent Nkurunziza, Director of the department of the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Ministry of Health says that one fifth of the population smokes.

According to the recent studies conducted by the Ministry of Health, 20% of residents of Kirundo province are smokers, 14.5% of students in primary and secondary schools in the capital Bujumbura are smokers while between 9% and 10% of them in the countryside also smoke cigarettes.

At the University of Burundi, 14.6% of students are smokers and 23% of employees in different institutions in Bujumbura also smoke.

“The survey has shown that between 18% and 20% of the population in the country are smokers”, says Nkurunziza.

Nkurunziza also says that two patients out of five are hospitalized due to tobacco and 20% of deaths are caused by smoking. “They die of severe consequences caused by tobacco”, says Nkurunziza. According to WHO, tobacco use kills more than 7 million people every year and costs households and governments over US$ 1.4 trillion through healthcare expenditure and lost productivity.

“Tobacco threatens us all,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices, and pollutes indoor air.”

All countries have committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to strengthen universal peace and eradicate poverty. Key elements of this agenda include implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and by 2030 reducing by one third premature death from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including heart and lung diseases, cancer, and diabetes, for which tobacco use is a key risk factor.

Burundi signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2006 and the draft bill preventing people to smoke in public areas is in progress. “Some measures to ban smoking into the public spaces were established and the sensitization campaign continues towards youths on the tobacco impacts”, says Nkurunziza.