Drug Fight Malawi has expressed its deep concern and fear of an increase in tobacco use by children and youth in the country following the recent sponsorship agreement between Big Bullets Football Club and Nyasa Tobacco Manufacturing Company.
Addressing jounrnalists in Lilongwe, Drug Fight Malawi Executive Director Nelson Zakeyo said they consider the tobacco sponsorship of the Peoples Team, as Big Bullets is fondly called as a deliberate and well-orchestrated strategy of the Nyasa Tobacco Manufacturing Company to market its products and increase tobacco consumption among children.
“This is in sharp contradiction to the healthy lifestyle of sports as espoused by FIFA. The tobacco sponsorship deal is also in conflict with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) three which ensures healthy lives and promotes well-being for all at all ages.
“Tobacco use is one of the greatest public health challenges facing the world today. The tobacco epidemic is spreading at an unprecedented rate, leading to nearly 6 million deaths globally each year from lung cancer, heart disease and other tobacco-related illness and causing the death of one in ten adult. By 2030, it is estimated that tobacco-related diseases will be the leading cause of death in Africa,” he said.
In Malawi, Zakeyo said more than 26 percent of men and 7 percent of youths smoke tobacco.
“As an important risk factor for non-communicable diseases, tobacco use is aggravating these conditions in Malawi where already one in three adults aged 25 years and above is hypertensive. While acknowledging that tobacco is Malawi’s top forex earner, it is not in order to promote for the use of tobacco that would in turn see children using the product.
“ The promotion of tobacco use will turn our own children into users and life smokers, hence dooming their
fututre,” he said.
Drug Fight Malawi is a registered NGO working against use of tobacco, marijuana, harmful alcohol consumption and other drugs of abuse.