ABOUT 8.7 per cent of men and women in Tanzania aged 15 years and above use tobacco, the first ever Tanzania Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2018 has revealed.
Unveiling the new survey at Dodoma’s Takwimu House, Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu said the percentage meant that in about every 100 people, 8 of them use tobacco.
Out of 8.7per cent of smokers, 14.6per cent are men while women constitute 3.2 per cent.
The new survey was conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children.
According to Statistician General, Dr Albina Chuwa, the GATS 2018 is the first, stand alone, national representative survey on tobacco use in the country which collected information on background characteristics, tobacco use (smocking and smokeless), cessation, economic indicators, exposure to tobacco advertising and promotions, as well as knowledge, attitudes and perceptions towards tobacco use.
Tanzania has an estimated 54.2 million people, according to the 2018 population projections by NBS and the country is the largest producer of tobacco products for internal use and exports.
With 8.7 per cent of tobacco users, it means out of 54.2 million people, 2.6 million adults in the country are either smocking or are smokeless tobacco users.
According to Dr Chuwa, in 2019 alone, Tanzania produced 42,581 tonnes of tobacco which contributed to about 334bn/- to the state coffers.
According to the health minister, survey findings show that overall, 5.2 per cent of adults were daily tobacco smokers, 1.6 per cent were occasional tobacco smokers and 93.2 per cent were non-smokers.
Ms Mwalimu said further that the findings suggested that current cigarette smokers spent an average of 28,840/- per month on manufactured cigarettes.
Tobacco use is one of the most common risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
According to WHO country estimates of 2010, NCDs account for 27per cent of all deaths in Tanzania.
WHO Country Representative, Dr Tigest Ketsela Mengestu, said with the new report, Tanzania had joined five other countries in Africa, namely, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon and Senegal to have implemented the GATS and released their data.
“This is a milestone and demonstrates Tanzania’s commitment to tracking and monitoring tobacco use and key tobacco control measures using global standards,’’ said Dr Mengestu in a speech read on his behalf by Dr Edwin Swai.