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Zambia Media Network Against tobacco (Zamnat), has expressed disappointment at the way the ‘New Dawn Administration’ is treating the tobacco Control Bill as the organisation is clearly seeing their indulgence with the tobacco industry.

In a statement made available to the media, Zamnat Chairperson Paxina Phiri says It is shocking to note that the tobacco industry through the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and industry could invite the Ministry of Health to a round table meeting when the government, according to article 5:3 of the World Health Organizations Frame Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO/FCTC) which Zambia ratified to, forbids them to have private meetings with the tobacco industry.

“The tobacco industry managed to deceive the participants to a meeting purportedly to be about the growth of tobacco to discussing how the members of Parliament and other stakeholders should shoot down the tobacco Control Bill. We do not see how they should be trying by all means to stop a bill that is beneficial both to the people of Zambia and the economy. Why they are afraid of this bill is the question that the New Dawn government should seek to know,” Ms Phiri said.

“Our appeal through this statement to our dear President to protect the people of Zambia from the devastating effects of tobacco as Zambia loses over 7,000 every year and the government spends over K2.8 billion which is 1.2% of Zambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to treat tobacco related diseases every year while the tobacco industry only contributes 0.4% to Zambia’s GDP,” She noted.

“Mr. President Sir, you have a constitutional obligation to protect the lives of the people that put you in power.” We are aware that when the cab memo was circulated, the bill got almost 92% vote to have the bill domesticated and we are wondering why the bill is still being delayed by the tobacco industry interference. The majority vote wins, just like the presidential majority vote put you into power Mr., President. We pray that you will attend to this bill without compromising with the tobacco industry as they do not mean well for the people of country.
We do not think that health matters should be debatable by the same people who are killing the people of Zambia,” She stated.

She has appealed to the Republican President Hakainde Hichilema to protect the present and future generations by speeding up the process to have the bill in Parliament in the current session.

“An impact assessment was done on this bill and submissions were made that Zambia stands to gain when this bill is passed and this was the first health bill to be subjected to this assessment.
We have seen other bills from the Ministry of Health get Cabinet approval but why is the Tobacco Control Bill receiving such attitude from the New Dawn Administration? This Bill is to protect the lives of the people of Zambia and also our environment and economy as tobacco is not good for anything apart from killing people. Tobacco has no other use apart from killing people and causing devastating effects to our environment,” Ms Phiri said.

She noted that Tobacco Industry Influence in Emerging Markets like Zambia is to prevent, stall and circumvent legislation saying that they do not mean well for the people of Zambia.

Ms Phiri explained that the tobacco Act and the Tobacco Control Bill are two different which do not conflict with each other at all stating that the tobacco Act is about production of tobacco and the Tobacco Control Bill is about the control of consumption of tobacco.

“Let me be clear that any use of any tobacco product is unsafe for our present and future generations. Many are using multiple products; these products typically contain nicotine and several other harmful ingredients. We want everyone particularly policy makers, parents and teachers to know how dangerous use of nicotine in any form is for kids. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development including harmful effects on learning, memory, and attention,” She emphasized.

She said tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths and diseases in Zambia and cigarettes are still the most commonly used tobacco product among middle and high school student.

” Smoking cigarettes among our nation’s youth has reached unprecedented and epidemic proportions and those who are using them are using them more often.
We know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that the vast majority of adult tobacco users begin during adolescence and so this is a critical period in terms of intervention to ensure that we prevent kids from using all forms of tobacco products use,” Ms Phiri said.

Ms Phiri sttaed that Supporting the passage of the Tobacco Control Bill is the wisest thing that this government would ever give to the people of Zambia.

“Why has this government kept quiet about the tobacco control bill when over 7, 142 lives are lost to tobacco every year and over 800 to secondhand smoke? Who is it that is protecting the tobacco industry and neglecting the lives of the Zambian people just because of money? And how much money does Zambia get from the killer industry?
Is there any amount of profit going into any company worth losing our people to tobacco every day?” She said.

Ms Phiri has since called on the people of Zambia to rise up and support the bill as it will protect the present and future generations.

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