Smoking must fall
The Interim Executive Director of the Anti-Tobacco Network (ATN) Dr Bontle Mbongwe has accused the government for lack of seriousness in enforcing the Control of Smoking Act.
The ATN is a Non-Governmental Organisation that was founded in 2011 to reduce youth access to tobacco and eliminate exposure to second hand smoke in all enclosed public places by the year 2019 among others.
Dr Mbongwe says the government is dragging its feet to enforce laws that could help eliminate or promote tobacco use cessation among adults and youth.
Chapter 65: 04 of the constitution details the control of smoking act which prohibits smoking in public areas and sale to persons under the age of 18 years. However in her recent findings, the business community continues to stumble upon these laws under government watch.
Dr Mbongwe argues that smoking cigarettes is a gate way to taking toxic drugs such as Marijuana and cocaine. In an interview with The Midweek Sun, she said that before the community starts raising alarm about the rampant use of drugs in the country, they should consider that it begins with just one, small cigarette, called ‘mzanga’ in street lingua.For Botswana to be a tobacco-free country, youth groups must be kept away from tobacco products.
“Small businesses are well known for their selling of single cigarettes at home and even besides the road, this gives children who are under the age of 18 easy access to the products.”
“Restaurants are also not abiding by the law, there are no designated smoking areas and children are often exposed,” she explained. Nevertheless, she applauded the government for sensitising and familiarising law enforcement officers with the Control of Smoking Act but advised that more needs to be done.She suggests that the government goes all out to ensure that they stop people from smoking and help those who are already addicted quit, adding that a comprehensive law should be passed to ban selling of single cigarettes.
“There should be mini treatment centres built with funds accumulated from the tobacco levy to help those who are already sick to stop smoking and do away with the smoking habit,” Mbongwe said.