27 Apr 2010
Since its inception five years ago, the Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum (TTCF) has been vital in Tanzania’s fight against tobacco consumption.
TTCF executive director Lutgard Kokulinda Kagaruki says the organization played a significant role during the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) ratification process in Tanzania during 2007 by re-educating MPs about tobacco not being vital for the country’s economy.
Lutgard said that after ratification, the Tobacco Products (Regulation) Act, 2003 (TPRA 2003) was found to have loopholes.
“Due to ratification the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare decided to enact a new FCTC compliant law instead of having a patched one. This law will soon be tabled in parliament,” she said.
What is the TTCF?
TTCF is an alliance of non-government organizations (NGOs), associations and individuals that work towards tobacco control in Tanzania. It was formed during the WHO Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) East African Workshop on Tobacco Control Initiatives in Nairobi during November 2005.
The organization was officially registered in June 2006. Since its inception, TTCF has grown from the original 20 founding members to well over 300 and a network of more than 20 associations.
Although TTCF’s work towards FCTC ratification and TPRA 2003 revision was some of its most significant work, the organisation is also involved with many other important tobacco control measures.
• Preparing the National Tobacco Control Strategy and the TTCF five-year Strategic Plan.
• Working towards a smoke-free Dar es Salaam.
• Encouraging tobacco farmers to grow alternative crops.
• Persuading the government to ban sales of the smokeless tobacco brand Kuber, which was smuggled into the country and became increasingly popular with Tanzania’s youth.
• Campaigning Tanzania’s airports to become smoke-free, which happened after World No Tobacco Day in 2007.
• Using the media to raise awareness about tobacco use hazards.
• Training tobacco control champions, and legal and human rights center monitors to respond effectively to the new tobacco control laws.
Tobacco industry blues
Lutgard says the tobacco industry poses a major challenge to the TTCF.
“Before intensifying advocacy campaigns on tobacco control, tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship was going on rather quietly and at a very low rate,” she said.
“However, as TTCF and partners intensified anti-tobacco campaigns, the tobacco industry came up with countermeasures to try to weaken them. The industry poured money into tobacco advertisements countrywide and, increased its promotional activities.”
Regarding tobacco farming, Lutgard said the tobacco industry (through the Ministry of Agriculture) scaled up its efforts to increase tobacco production claiming that tobacco was generating high revenues for the government.
Sustaining the TTCF
Sustainability of the TTCF is another big challenge. TTCF’s main source of income is through member contributions as entry fees and annual subscriptions.
“Unfortunately these funds are not adequate to sustain all forum requirements,” Lutgard said. “TTCF has also received grants from several donors that have raised the forum status, however, more efforts are required to ensure long term sustainability.”
About the TTCF, visit the organization’s website.