World No Tobacco Day: Rwanda focuses on youth protection

Every year on May 31, the world observes the World No Tobacco Day. It is meant to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption across the globe.

The day is further intended to draw global attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and its negative health effects. Globally, tobacco use accounts for eight million deaths annually, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).


Due to the coronavirus epidemic, Rwanda did not organize a national event to mark the day,


However, the day was marked by different activities such as increasing awareness using different media platforms.


This comes at the time the 2014/15 demographic survey showed that tobacco consumption among 10 per cent among men aged 15-59 and 2 per cent among women aged 15-49.

Kigali City and the Western Province have the highest proportion of daily smokers at 73.2 per cent and 75.8 per cent respectively.

Youths as the main target

 According to Evariste Ntaganda, the cardiovascular diseases officer at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, the government has done a lot to take some actions such as strengthening legislation promoting smoke free environments, health warnings on cigarette packages and increasing taxes on tobacco products.

“A lot of effort was directed at the very high burden in young people. When preventing the use of tobacco in such a generation, it means that we are putting more effort in controlling its use in future generations, which is our target,” he says.

 The strategy, he explains, is also to target young people in different fora such as in schools, youth organisations and media, as well as open discussions, in order to present all this information and at the same time answer participants’ concerns.

Passive smokers suffer than real smokers

Francois Uwinkindi, the head of non-communicable diseases at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, they are trying to control secondhand smoking, a move already supported by the law which prohibits public smoking.

According to WHO, 890,000 out of 1.3 billion smokers are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats. Globally, around 80 per cent of tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest.

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