Speaking to the journalists, Sainabou.B. Cham, program officer NCD Unit, said the law says every person has the right to a tobacco smoke-free environment and the person consuming it should ensure that he/she does not expose another person to tobacco smoke.
She added that all forms of tobacco advertisement, promotion or sponsorship including cross-border ones are prohibited and as a result, a person shall not initiate any tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship.
Therefore, she said, a person shall not import, manufacture, distribute, sell or offer for sale a tobacco product unless the unit packet, package of tobacco product or outside packaging and labeling of such product conforms to the packaging and labeling requirements prescribed by the ministry.
“Text and pictures advertising health warnings shall appear together and shall occupy no less than 75% of the packet display. All tobacco products should conform to the regulations,” she explained.
“When it comes to tobacco control, there is no way we can move forward without the media, so engagement of the media is a continuous process because during the enforcement, we went to hotels and restaurants where we seized lots of Shishaa bottles but after few weeks they started again so our work with the media would never stop.”
“Sales of single cigarette sticks is one of the biggest challenges we have right now. We know some shopkeepers are not selling single cigarette sticks to random people except their loyal customers. We also understand that people selling Café Touba are the most ones selling single cigarette sticks and that we want a total stop with immediate effect,” she noted.
According to her, the directorate will go forth with the regional orientation meetings but most precisely with the PTA’s and mothers’ clubs and would also initiate multi disciplinary teams including agriculture workers, extension workers and also public health officers.
She added that: “we feel before taking people to police stations, courts or prisons it’s better to have engagements at least at the grass roots to know what is happening then we believe they wouldn’t be caught by the law.”
“We also plan to work with the faith based. These are the religious leaders that people keenly listen to. These are people that have powers and authorities in their various areas and through their sermons could preach the tobacco control laws.”
“Youths are our primary target because most of the smokers today started from a youthful age. We also want to meet the shopkeepers because we’ve noticed that the selling of single cigarettes is still going on even though it’s unlawful,” she noted.