ITC Project

Urgent Action Needed as Tobacco Use Continues to Grow in Zambia

To read the press release and download the full ITC Zambia Wave 1 Report, click here.

 

It is with great urgency that I announce the release of this report on the findings of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC Project) Wave 1 Survey in Zambia — the first longitudinal survey ever conducted in Zambia to systematically evaluate the effectiveness of tobacco control policies in Zambia.

As a cardiologist and Principal Investigator for the ITC Zambia Survey, I am passionate about implementing scientifically-proven solutions in the fight to protect the people of Zambia from the harms of tobacco. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world’s leading cause of death, killing 17.3 million people every year. Eighty percent of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), which are increasingly being targeted by the tobacco industry. Urgent action is needed as tobacco use continues to grow in Zambia and other LMICs.

This is the first report to provide evidence-based knowledge to identify Zambia`s strengths and weaknesses in the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The findings indicate that while Zambia has enacted tobacco control laws across several key policy domains since ratifying the FCTC in 2008, current laws need to be strengthened and enforced in order to be effective and to meet best practice guidelines provided in the treaty.

It is clear that Zambian tobacco users recognize the harmful and addictive nature of tobacco and support the government playing a stronger role in tobacco control. More than two-thirds (68%) of smokers in Zambia regret taking up smoking and more than one-third (43%) have tried to quit. About a quarter (24%) of smokers plan to quit smoking within the next 6 months. It is well established that advice to quit from a physician or health professional is a powerful motivator for quitting. Zambia has an opportunity to increase quit rates by providing training and cessation support services to strengthen the role of health care workers in assisting smokers to quit.

Health warnings on tobacco packages are one of the most cost-effective measures to increase awareness of the harms of tobacco use and to motivate thoughts and behaviours that lead to quitting. The survey findings showed that Zambia’s current text-only warning on 30% of the front and back of the pack is not effective, and falls short of meeting the FCTC Article 11 Guidelines which recommend large, rotating pictorial health warnings on at least 50% of the front and back of the pack.

IMAGE CAPTION: May 30, 2014; Lusaka, Zambia: NGOs, youth advocates, staff of the Ministry of Health, school children and baton twirlers, accompanied by the armed forces band, marched to open the World No Tobacco Day event, where the ITC Zambia Wave 1 National Report was released

 

 

 

 

 

Although comprehensive smoke-free policies have been established, evidence of weak levels of enforcement mean that Zambians are being exposed to secondhand smoke and therefore are at increased risk of CVD and other chronic diseases. Zambia has a broad network of stakeholders who are committed to strong implementation of the FCTC, including health care workers, community organizations, the Ministry of Health and other sectors of the government, and African Tobacco Control organizations such as the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA), Africa Tobacco Control Regional Initiative (ATCRI), and the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA). We are eager to move forward to facilitate the translation of findings in this report into training, program, and policy initiatives in Zambia.

IMAGE CAPTION: May 30, 2014; Lusaka, Zambia: (from left to right) Chief Investigator of the ITC Project Dr. Geoffrey T. Fong, Deputy Minister in the Zambian Ministry of Health Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, ITC Prinicpal Investigator & President of the Heart and Stroke Foundation Zambia Dr. Fastone Goma, Acting Director, Directorate of Disease Control, Surveillance and Research Dr. Itone Muteba, and ITC Research Scientist Dr. Anne C.K. Quah

 

- Fastone Goma, MB ChB(UNZA), MSc(Lon), PhD(Leeds), Cert.PH(UAB) President of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Zambia