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November 19, 2008


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The creation of ATCA was a very bright idea from the Africans for Africa. It provides a wonderful platform for partnering with our friends and welwishers from other countries in the fight against Tobacco. It also provides us with an opportunity to organize ourselves, build our capacity and invent approaches that will work for us. We are able to own the struggle.


The greatest resources in the fight against Tobacco in Africa should be directed towards farmers. My interaction with tobacco growers reveal that it is easier to convert a farmer than a smoker. Farmers are willing, and indeed many have, to stop growing tobacco. Once we deal with farmers, there will be no industry and to a large extend, no smokers. Lets not imitate Europe. Our problems are a bit different but the effects are the same. Why waste a lot of resources in towns, workshops for irrelevant people and publications when we can reach the farmers and achieve greater results? Africa! lets wake up.


What is lacking in Africa is concerted efforts by tobacco control advocates. Experience has shown that when the media and the Civil society organizations team up and confront the government, changes are easily realized.Our undoing is that Tobacco Control Crusaders most often forget who the enemy is and engage in shadow boxing.

We need to come out strongly and confront our government officials and politicians with facts.In this era where everybody wants to pass the integrity test, we stand a high chance of succeeding only if we work as team.Africa needs not just to have organizations with names and objectives that depict them as tobacco control bodies but real tobacco control professionals with a clear focus.Politicians will no longer delight in taking in being compromised by The Industry for fear of the consequences. the same applies to the law enforcement officers.

In Kenya for example,the reforms that are biting every part of the public service have far reaching implications.We should all stand firmly and push a head reform agenda in tobacco control.Our voices should be heard across the continent and in the world.We should not waste time resolving energy sapping petty conflicts among ourselves.Self seekers and agents of the industry who try to derail our course should be put where they belong.

We cannot afford to play games as our continent (home) continues to burn.The national and international laws governing tobacco controlmust be implemented fully.There should be no alternative to this.

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