Studies have shown that, the use of tobacco is still on the increase in the Gambia especially among the youth folk of the populace. Several studies were conducted over the years to determine the prevalence of tobacco use in different contexts showed interesting revelations.
Tobacco use prevalence: Male 34%, Female 1.5% (WHO 2010) youth aged 13-15 years 24% (GYTS 2008); no data on smokeless tobacco.
Even though, Gambia has made significant achievements over the past years on tobacco control, there is no proper implementation or effective enforcement plan for tobacco control legislation that will minimize the use of tobacco among young people in the Gambia.
The Gambia has developed a tobacco control strategy and enforcement of various tobacco control legislation, particularly the Prohibition of Smoking (in public places) and ban on advertisement of tobacco products in 2003, packaging and labeling of tobacco product in October 2010 and the recent comprehensive tobacco control law on 30 December 2016.
Tobacco use still poses a serious challenge to the people of the Gambia and their dream to attain their right to health despite all the efforts of tobacco control advocates especially among the youth folks. Studies have shown that, the use of tobacco is still on the increase in the Gambia especially among the youth folk of the populace.
Also, the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the Gambia is due to tobacco use.
Several diseases due to which most people die such as cancer, heart diseases, high blood pressures and chest infections are found to be mainly/directly related to tobacco use and related life style habits in the Gambia.
Several studies were conducted over the years to determine the prevalence of tobacco use in different contexts showed interesting revelations.
The International Organization of Good Templars (IOGT) conducted a survey in Banjul and Kanifing Municipality on smoking prevalence in the Gambia in 1999 shows that 43% of the males sampled (216) ever smoked cigarettes and the majority (66%) of this number fell within the age group 20-39 years.
Correspondingly, out of the 144 females sampled, 21 (14%) ever smoked cigarettes and the majority of this (6.9%) fell within the age group 20 – 39 years.
Even though this was a more localized study, these results indicated that smoking is indeed a cause for concern in the younger population, particularly those aged 20 – 39 years.
The Global Youth Tobacco Survey of 2008 has also indicated a 24.5% prevalence of tobacco use among young people aged 13 – 15 years, with insignificant difference between boys and girls that have ever used tobacco (28.6% for boys and 20.3% for girls).
A national population-based survey, the steps Survey (2010) has also revealed interesting and useful information on the level and dynamics of tobacco use among adults in the Gambia.
The survey indicated that, overall, 16.3% of the adult populations aged 24 – 64 years reported being users of tobacco, and about 15% of these were daily users.
Prevalence of daily tobacco users was reported to have been higher among men (29.4%) than in women (1.9%). When compared by age group, daily tobacco use is also higher among men of all age groups than women but highest among 25-34 and 35-44 years for men, 31.0% and 31.1% respectively. Source: Gambian Youth