People working around the Tobacco Leaf Processing plant in Kampala’s Industrial Area say they are worried about their lives. According to the world Health Organisation (WHO), every year 600,000 nonsmokers die from heart disease and lung cancer, and thousands of children suffer from respiratory infections because of exposure to second hand smoke.
People working around the Tobacco Leaf Processing plant in Kampala’s Industrial Area say they are worried about their lives.
32 year old Bella Orishaba is an airtime vendor with a kiosk behind the British American Tobacco (BAT) Company. She says during the peak season, as the wind blows the smoke, she gets constant cough, fails to breathe properly and cannot move.
However, Orishaba adds that she cannot leave the premise because it’s her only means of survival and the location is worthwhile. She adds that there is some relief now because activity normally starts in July until March the following year.
A BAT worker who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity says she was looking for employment. Ignorant of the side effects of working in a tobacco industry, the woman who works in the Green leaf plant department said she did not ask about the health consequences.
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She adds that the company gives them protective gear such as face masks, ear defenders, gloves and protective shoes to wear.
She argues though that the side effects are minimal since they ensure that all their respiratory organs are protected.
According to the world Health Organisation (WHO), every year 600,000 nonsmokers die from heart disease and lung cancer, and thousands of children suffer from respiratory infections because of exposure to second hand smoke.
This is out of the six million who die as a result of using tobacco products. It also notes that there is no risk-free level of exposure to tobacco smoke, and there is no safe tobacco product.
Efforts to get a comment from BAT on how they can control the poisonous smoke that is blown to the neighboring environment were fruitless.
Peter Kaujju, the Kampala Capital City Authority spokesperson, says they are moving to check for compliance of the Health Act in all factories operating in Kampala.
Dr. Sheila Ndayanabangi, the principle medical officer in charge of mental health in the Ministry of Health, however, says any fumes from tobacco are poisonous.
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Exposure to second hand smoke can cause cardiovascular diseases and could trigger acute cardiac events, such as heart attack.
In December last year, the Anti-tobacco Control Bill 2011 was tabled before Parliament. It seeks to control tobacco use and protect Ugandans from the detrimental effects of the plant.
Dr. Ndyanabangi is hopeful that before the end of this year, the bill which also asks government to reject partnerships with tobacco companies and desist from giving them tax incentives shall be passed.
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This year’s World No Tobacco Day was marked under the theme, “Tobacco Industry Interference with Tobacco Control in Uganda.”
Some of the interferences cited include maneuvering to hijack the political legislative policy. For example until today Uganda has no approved national tobacco control policy and legislation.
Solomon Muyita, Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Coordinator at BAT was quoted in the media on Thursday as saying that the company is not against tobacco regulation. He was quick to point out the contribution of the industry to the country’s economy.
Ugandaearns up to US$70 million per year in foreign exchange earnings from tobacco leaf exports and another 80 billion shillings in taxes.
Ministry of Health officials also note that many of the tobacco industry shareholders are very prominent and influential personalities capable of frustrating tobacco control initiatives as they protect their interests.
tobacco related diseases
32 year old orushaba bella
heart disease and lung cancer
dr sheila ndyanabangi
british american tobacco
tobacco in uganda