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Why tobacco consumption is harmful to your fertility

Why tobacco consumption is harmful to your fertility

IF you did not know that excessive use of tobacco can affect your sexual reproductive health, now you should know.

Experts say the use of tobacco kills seven million people annually in the globe, out of which 900,000 deaths occur to nonsmokers exposed to second hand smoke.

In sexual Reproductive Health, effects of the use of tobacco has consistently been accelerating sudden infant death syndrome, abortion and premature birth, Fertility problems, vascular disease and low birth weight, among others.

It is against the backdrop of the problem that Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum convened Members of Parliament in Dodoma in a capacity building workshop with a view to pushing for the enactment of the tobacco control legislation in efforts to implement the World Health Organisation (WHO) Convention on Tobacco Control.

In his presentation to lawmakers, the Chairperson of a Taskforce for Tobacco Control in Tanzania, Professor Theonest Mutabingwa was among the key eye openers on how tobacco use was one of leading cause of deaths occasioned by Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

“Tobacco is the only legal product that injures and kills half of its users when used exactly as intended by the manufacturer,’’ noted Prof Mutabingwa.

According to Prof Mutabingwa, statistics from WHO depicts that NCDs kill 35million people annually, with 80per cent of deaths coming from Lower Middle Income Countries—LMIC.

Tobacco according to him was responsible for one out of six NCD deaths. In his presentation which brought a lot of attention from over 60 MPs under the umbrella dubbed ‘A Network of Parliamentarians Dedicated in the fight Against NCDs, Prof Mutabingwa said the National Tobacco Epidemic shows that NCDs account for 27per cent of all deaths in Tanzania and that studies conducted at Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) and Muhimbili National Hospital Show that 32per cent of all cancers were tobaccorelated and Tanzania was spending up to US Dollars 40 million to treat the diseases.

Statistics further show that Major cancer sites and prevalence of smoking include Cervix - 35.7per cent, Head and neck – 25.7per cent, Larynx – 83.0percent, Lung – 60.0per cent, Oesophagus – 66.7per cent and Urinary bladder – 37.5per cent.

The two studies conducted in 2009 further showed that smokers were 3.9 times more likely to get cancer than non smokers. Statistics also show that tobacco use can increase blood sugar levels and lead to insulin resistance, and, people with diabetes who smoke are more likely to have trouble with insulin dosing and with controlling their disease.

At the capacity building workshop, the Executive Director of Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum (TTCF), Lutgard Kokulinda Kagaruki told parliamentarians that there was an urgent need for the enactment of a new law for controlling tobacco consumption as the law that was enacted in 2003 was outdated.

She also advocated for the need by the government to increase levies on tobacco in order to reduce the use of the product to save the country’s human capital which was being affected by tobacco consumption.

“The proposed Bill for tobacco control is within the hands of the Ministry of Health, so we are requesting members of parliament to push for tabling of the bill and eventually its debate and adoption,” she said.

During the discussion, MPs who have repeatedly came out strongly as champions against non-communicable diseases said they are ready to spearhead the fight against the crop, saying it is harmful to producers, users as well as non-users.

The champion’s chairperson, and Special Seats legislator, Bernadeta Mushashu (CCM) noted that the dangers posed by the crop to farmers and other people in the country are greater than the revenues that go to the government.

“It is my proposal that something must be done as soon as possible and stop tobacco farming and the government should put more emphasis on other cash crops” she said.

Ubungo MP, Prof Kitila Mkumbo (CCM), argued that there should be no hesitation or fear when dealing with matters of human health.

He called on his colleagues to join forces in the quest for the establishment of a law prohibiting use of tobacco in the country.

“We need to push for the change even if it means coming up with a private motion in the parliament” he said, adding this should be done as soon as possible.

He stated that at inception, it was widely mentioned a cash crop, making farmers to rush to its production but it has proved nonprofitable and farmers are in poverty, adding that the government should promote alternative crops in areas where tobacco is grown.

Prof Mkumbo said that it was high time for parliamentarians to fight so that the Tobacco Board of Tanzania is disbanded as well as removing tobacco from the strategic crops that the country is expecting to accrue revenue from.

He was supported by Special Seats MP, Salome Makamba who said that during the ongoing parliament sessions, she would ensure that the ministry for Health and that of Agriculture are ensuring that the much awaited Bill for tobacco control is tabled.

Kigoma South MP, Nashon Bidyanguze(CCM) said most farmers of tobacco do not have the knowledge on the effects of tobacco, right from the farm to the final users.

He told the meeting that many farmers in his constituency have resorted to other crops upon realisation that tobacco farming is not profitable at all, calling on the government to provide public education on the crop and other crops that can give farmers better income.

The workshop was also attended by former tobacco growers who after realising that tobacco farming had no interest rather than affecting the health of farmers and their customers decided to opt for alternative crops.

“Initially I thought that my life cannot continue without tobacco farming, but after I received a training from the Miombo Project in 2016 I opted for alternative crops and specifically on sunflower farming which is also suitable in my area, I am now living the best life and I managed to move from a grass thatched house to the best house,’’ testified Edward Machuza from Urambo District, Tabora Region which is popular in tobacco farming in Tanzania.

He asked the government to intensify knowledge on entrepreneurship alternative crops to farmers as well as helping them to have markets on their produces.

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Author: KATARE MBASHIRU

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