Africa tobacco control activists gather forces for sustained battle

13 Nov 2008

Durban ( SOUTH AFRICA)– Tobacco control activists from 21 African countries are meeting in Durban to gear-up for sustained and coordinated action to halt the alarming increase in tobacco use across the continent.

Their two-day workshop takes place on the eve of the third conference of government delegates from 160 countries that have ratified the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This major event kicks off in Durban, at the International Convention Centre, on Monday (17 November).

“In Africa we had fairly low rates of tobacco use and we are seeing this situation slip away, month by month, under the marketing onslaught of the multinational tobacco companies,” commented Mr Adeola Akinremi, African Region Coordinator for the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA).

 “We have to gather our forces to halt this frightening increase in tobacco use. African countries cannot afford to add to their burden of disease – especially when our suffering and our increased health costs serve to pour money into the pockets of tobacco companies.”

The activists’ Durban meeting has seen progress towards the establishment of the African Tobacco Control Alliance. It has also provided a platform for:

  • Charting a joint way forward in their efforts to secure long-term, effective tobacco control in the conditions prevailing on the continent.
  • Prepare for a major campaign against tobacco smuggling in 2009.
  • Sharing skills between experienced activists and lobbyists, and newcomers to the anti-tobacco cause.

The FCTC Conference of the Parties is the mechanism through which governments take decisions on how to tighten up tobacco control and make the convention’s provisions a reality.

Since the first international talks on tobacco control started in 1999, African governments have been advocates of a strong tobacco control treaty. The workshop of non-governmental activists has enabled them to plan how to increase the impact of the Convention. 

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