LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)— Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) Malawi has said people who smoke tobacco, will continue being harmed by tar–one of the many toxic chemical substances found in burning tobacco leaves–if the country does not adopt THR products and start using them.
Project Manager for THR Malawi, Chimwemwe Ngoma made the remarks during the virtual launch of the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GSTHR) 2020 report.
Ngoma observes that THR products include, among others, electronic cigarettes and Snus–things, he said, have not yet flooded markets in Malawi.
He asked authorities to make effort to import or manufacture THR products and make them accessible and affordable, saying the local smoking population is safer getting nicotine through these products than through smoking of tobacco leaves.
“The Foundation for a Smoke Free World’s country profile for Malawi indicate that only eight percent out of the one million daily smokers, are aware of THR products. Smokers need to have access to these safer alternative technologies. Otherwise, their health is at great risk as evidenced by increasing cases of lung cancer and other Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in health facilities,” said Ngoma.
In his remarks, Dr Kaponda Masiye, who is the Ministry of Health’s Deputy Director Clinical Services responsible for NCDs and Mental Health, concurred with Ngoma, adding that the extent of NCDs is indeed worrisome in Malawi–at 35 percent of the disease burden.
“There is really the need to adopt THR technologies. As we are switching people from smoking, they should be able to enjoy alternative safer technologies that are imitating tobacco so we can reduce the burden of NCDs. Otherwise, we are losing productive citizens,” said Masiye.
The GSTHR report is published by the Knowledge Action Change-London and the report maps the global, regional and national availability of safer nicotine products, the regulatory responses and public health potential of tobacco harm reduction.
During the virtual launch of the report, some of the prominent speakers included; Mwawi Ng’oma, Programmes Manager for St. John of God Malawi and Fiona Patten, a Member of Parliament and politician from Australia.