PS SPeech for MMC - Ministry of Health

The Country Representative – WHO, Dr. Custodia Mandlhate
The CEO – NACADA, Dr. William Okedi
The Representative of the World Lung Foundation-CEO of Institute for Legislative
Affairs, Mr. Vincent Kimosop
The Tobacco Control Board
Senior Government Official Present
Chair of KETCA Mr. Joel Gitali,
The Tobacco Control Community in Kenya
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
First and foremost, my sincere Thanks to our partners at World Lung Foundation for
their technical and financial support and for additional financial support from American
Cancer Society and the African Tobacco Control Alliance who have made it possible for
Kenya to undertake this Campaign. It is the first of its kind and the Ministry will mobilize
funds to ensure that future campaigns are undertaken.
Following the results of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) we launched recently,
the urgent tobacco problem in Kenya brings us here today. The GATS 2014 revealed
that 1.7 million adults currently smoked tobacco while 14.3 percent ( 3.1 Million adults)
reported being exposed to second-hand smoke (SHS) at home , 21.2 percent in
restaurants, 17.6 percent in the workplace, 30.2 percent in universities and more
alarming is that 86.1 percent of adults were exposed in nightclubs and bars. Over threequarters (77.4 percent) of current smokers planned to or were thinking about quitting,
but only 5 in 10 smokers had attempted to quit in the past 12 months.
The Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) done in 2013 revealed that 9.9% of Kenyan
youth aged 13-15 years are tobacco users with 7.0% using smoked tobacco products
and 24.8% of the youth being exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke at home. This
campaign seeks to encourage quitting and support for the legislation on for smoke-free
public places including homes , workplaces so Kenyans will be protected from cigarette
smoke particularly in public places and at home where children are also exposed
alongside the adults.
Given the statistics on exposure to second hand tobacco smoke many of our children
are exposed to second-hand smoke at home. This is a contributing factor to the millions
of deaths of these children. About 52 per 1,000 children born alive die before they are
one year of age while 108,000 Kenyan Children do not live to celebrate their fifth
birthdays. These are very saddening facts and we can change them by being
responsible parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties, and siblings; by not exposing these
young children to tobacco smoke. Children have the right to a healthy environment at
home and in public places and therefore we must ensure that this right is observed. The
ban in smoking in public places must be complied with and claimed for the vulnerable
The trend of non-communicable diseases in this country is alarming. Tobacco is the
most preventable cause of these diseases which including Cancers, heart diseases,
lung diseases and diabetes. These diseases are debilitating to those who suffer them
and the cost of managing them is beyond the reach of majority of Kenyans. The
prevalence of these diseases will continue to rise if more people continue to smoke. It is
particularly a threat if the youth continue to be initiated to smoking. Policy interventions
such as raising awareness of the harms of smoking, discouraging people from initiating
smoking, increasing the cost of tobacco products, implementing smoke-free laws and
encouraging quitting will help to halt and prevent a worsening of the tobacco epidemic in
The concern is that these numbers will go up, not down, if we don’t do something about
them immediately.
The majority of smokers die during what would have been their most economically
productive years, below the age of sixty. If we are to combat the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases we must reduce tobacco use and eliminate exposure to
tobacco smoke. By doing so, we can save hundreds of thousands of lives, strengthen
the economy, and prevent needless illness, disease and suffering in Kenya.
Kenya is a leader in the African continent and the world in tobacco control. We have to
set an example but we need to further raise our citizens’ awareness and change their
attitudes about the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke. The information that
will be provided by this campaign is envisaged to reinforce to Kenyans that tobacco use
and smoking in public places and homes as unacceptable. The government of Kenya
accountable and is committed to ensuring that Kenyans have access to the highest
attainable standards of health and that Kenyans are able to live, socialize and work in a
healthy environment without tobacco.
If we do not fight back against tobacco use and restrain the tobacco industry from
supplying these deadly products to Kenyans, the tobacco epidemic in the Kenya and
African region will nearly double by 2030. The developed world has put in place
stringent measures and the tobacco industry is losing customers in several countries in
other continents like Europe and North America. The Industry is now aggressively
targeting so it is turning towards Africa to try to bolster its profits, at the expense of the
health and lives of our people and this is unacceptable. This trend is a wakeup call for
the Governments in our region to act urgently to prevent the tobacco epidemic from
taking away the lives of Africans.
Majority of Kenyans (98.2%) believe that tobacco use causes serious illness. The
campaign we are launching today provides more information on the health effects of
tobacco. It is expected that this messages will that should motivate smokers to quit
smoking and should deter young people from starting. We are very happy to work with
the National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug and Substance Abuse (NACADA)
who have provided a quit line to help people who need this support. The Ministry has
ensured that service providers on this quit line have undergone training on tobacco
cessation and therefore will be able to provide the service effectively.
In conclusion, I call upon the Media to support this fight against the most preventable
cause of premature death, disability, diseases and poverty.
I also call upon all Kenyans who have not started using the deadly tobacco products not
to even think about starting and to those who are already using them to QUIT NOW! In
addition, let us not forget that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.
Smoking in public places and at home is responsible for many childhood illnesses and
deaths suffered by Kenyans of all ages.
Tobacco is surely eating you and your children alive - Quit Now!
I now declare the Anti-tobacco Mass Media Campaign Launched
Thank you