Friday, May 30, 2008

ZACA urges enforcement of new anti-smoking law

ZACA urges enforcement of new anti-smoking law
By Zumani Katasefa and Mwila Chansa
Friday May 30, 2008 [04:00]

GOVERNMENT should ensure that the new law that prohibits smoking in public does not join a queue of other laws that are not effectively enforced, Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA) executive secretary Muyunda Ililonga has urged. And Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) president Dr Swebby Macha said smoking areas should be designated to avoid infringing on the rights of smokers. Commenting on the new law that prohibits smoking in public, Ililonga said the move was progressive and hoped that it would help save people's lives from the harmful tobacco.

"As ZACA we welcome the law. It is going to help save lives of those who have chosen to commit suicide by smoking in public as well as non-smokers who are indirectly affected by the tobacco smoke," he said.

Ililonga said Zambia had very good laws on paper but that they lacked enforcement.

"This is a big step ahead, but the problem that we have in Zambia is that we have so many good laws which are not enforced. What we need now is a system of policing these laws," Ililonga said.

And Dr Macha said while the ZMA welcomed the ban on smoking in public places, it was important for smoking areas to be designated so that the rights of smokers were not infringed.

Dr Macha said smoking in public places infringed on the rights of non-smokers as they unwillingly inhaled smoke by virtue of being next to smokers.

He said the government's decision was a milestone in protecting non-smokers from second-hand or passive smoking in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) directive last year for all countries that had not taken action on indoor smoking to do so.

"The dangers of passive smoking, especially in enclosed places, are already known. Cigarettes contain nicotine which is one of the toxins implicated in causing lung cancer, repeated chest infections, worsened asthma attacks, heart attacks, and even strokes," said Dr Macha.

He further said cigarettes were also linked to cancers such as cervical and in reduced fertility for both men and women.
Dr Macha added that cigarettes were also linked to low birth weight babies and congenital anomalies such as pre-mature labour and bleeding in late pregnancy.

Dr Macha said there was need for more public education on the dangers of smoking and that professional organisations such as ZMA and the media could spearhead the awareness.

On Wednesday, local government minister Sylvia Masebo signed a Statutory Instrument (SI) prohibiting smoking in public places.
Masebo said she was compelled to sign the SI, dated April 9, 2008, which has since been gazetted, due to continued smoking in public by persons with no regard for the comfort of others.

Masebo warned that anyone in contravention of the regulation would be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding K4,000,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.

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