The World Health Organization should design serious strategies to oblige poor nations to comply and curb rising numbers of female tobacco users

Document Type

Response or Comment


School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


I write to commend the decision taken by WHO as in your article to Halt rising numbers of female tobacco users in poor nations, urges WHO, by John Zarocostas. BMJ 2010;340:c2956.

As a person who has lived and worked in a tobacco growing area of my country, Uganda, I have vividly seen many of the dangers of tobacco, from growing it, to using it by chewing and smoking it in even the unprocessed forms. I have seen women, girls, boys and men waste their livelihoods in what I could term the ‘tobacco mess’. It saddened me because as a health worker (Nurse) working in that region at that time, I knew what they were headed for – disaster. Most heart breaking was that the government was busy praising the tobacco industry for the ‘great revenue’. Many governments, through their ministries of health, are in the know of all these issues and have tried to regulate them by putting policies in place to curb the situation. But because they pick the revenue with one hand it becomes difficult to sanction ‘meaningful’ policies with the other hand. The end result usually is unenforced policies, and many poor nations have a lot of these. This is worsened by the aggressive marketing policies of the tobacco industry.

It’s a commendable decision that the World Health Organization has called for concerted global action to curb the rising numbers of female tobacco users, especially in poor nations. My concern is that this good move may eventually be watered down by the fact that these poor nations are blinded by the revenue from the tobacco industry and may not dare develop meaningful policies to curb the rising numbers of female tobacco users. The tobacco industry may also be threatened because this call may result in an overall reduction of their clientele, both female and male. The tobacco industry may therefore design more complex ways to keep the female tobacco users and even recruit more, both female and male.

I therefore encourage and call upon the World Health Organization to design serious strategies to governments of these poor nations to comply and curb rising numbers of female tobacco users.



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