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Activists raise red flag of cigarette trade around schools

The tobacco industry has changed its marketing strategy in Kenya after a new report revealed that they are targeting school going children.

The Product display, Promotion and Advertising of Tobacco report, which was released after a study in Nairobi, showed that almost all primary schools had a shop selling cigarettes within 250m radius from their fences.

A total of 112 schools in Westlands, Langata, Nairobi West, Upper Hill, Eastern and Imara Daima were sampled.

Within the said schools, there were 860 kiosks out of which 664 were selling and advertising tobacco contrary to the law.

Some 92% of tobacco vendors around those schools were selling single sticks most of which were cheaper and that the sweets.

“We discovered that children are sold single sticks at Sh10 yet the law says one has to buy a whole packet,” Steve Bala, Consumer Information Network Program Officer, said.

The report also revealed that 84 per cent of the vendors were displaying cigarettes, next to sweets, snacks and soft drinks to attract the children. The cigarettes did not have any warning signs indicating the health implications of smoking tobacco to the consumer.

“They removed the logos on their shops but retained their cabinets which they use to display the products. Even though the cabinets do not have names, it is worth noting that all cigarette cabinets had one color, orange,” Bala added.

The report showed that Sportsman (473), Safari (315) and Supermatch (231) were some of the most popular products that were being advertised by the vendors.

“When the retailers do such displays, they are helping the tobacco industry in promoting and advertising their products,” Bala added.

Recent studies have shown that minors who start using tobacco at an early age end up using hard drugs when they become of age.

The Tobacco Control Act 2007 outlaws any form of advertising to the consumers. It also requires vendors to display warning that the consumption of tobacco is harmful to ones’ health.

Nairobi county health executive Bernard Muia said that there was need to ban smoking as this will help in reducing the number of people who die as a result of tobacco consumption.

“People need to know that the effect of smoking tobacco is not felt like that of a mosquito bite. It takes years to manifest into chronic diseases which is very expensive to treat,” Muia said.

The report was carried out by the John Hopkins foundations and the Consumer information Network in June last year.

Source: THE STAR

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