FIGHT AGAINST SMOKING IN BURKINA: Progress but still efforts to be made

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day. It was in 1987 that the World Health Organization (WHO) instituted this day as part of awareness against tobacco consumption. In traditional society, tobacco was not unknown. But its consumption sometimes responded to a medical prescription. Following certain diseases causing nausea or gastric disorders, it was sometimes recommended to consume tobacco which, it was said, helped to overcome the discomfort. Tobacco could also be recommended as a solution to situational psychological disorders linked, for example, to the loss of a loved one, which one could not overcome. Tobacco was then chewed. Today, tobacco consumption takes the form of cigarettes and begins as a result of fashion and snobbery. In the middle of the young people, we sometimes appear somewhat old-fashioned when we do not smoke. So, to be accepted or simply to do like the others, we start smoking. The circle of smokers, which for a long time included only men, has since opened up to young girls and women who would also like to display their emancipation in this way. Started as a game, imitation or snobbery, tobacco later becomes a problem for the consumer. Once you get caught up in it, it becomes hard to get out. And it takes significant resources to obtain tobacco on a regular basis. The real danger, however, is that it constitutes a public health problem, not only for the consumer, but also for those around him and his environment. The smoker is a public danger for himself, for others and for the environment. How many bush fires have been caused in summer, in temperate countries, by unextinguished cigarette butts? Not to mention air pollution and the increase in the greenhouse effect. In terms of human health, it is established that smoking is the second cause of death in the world with more than six million deaths per year, of which more than six hundred thousand are non-smokers. It is the primary risk factor for cancer, responsible for one in five cancers and one in three cancer deaths. However, in Burkina, 90% of young people under the age of twenty-one consume cigarettes and cannabis. The youngest Burkinabè smoker is said to be only five years old. This shows the impact of the phenomenon and the carelessness of smokers and those around them. Tobacco use often leads to other vices such as alcohol and drug use, although it is true that not all smokers go to this extreme. World Tobacco Awareness Day is therefore welcome to draw everyone’s attention to the dangers of tobacco. The struggle is not easy. Because the tobacco lobbies that come from large companies, both transnational and multinational, want to keep their market share, and therefore do and will do everything to safeguard the tobacco industry. It is therefore a fight that could seem impossible, a little like the fight against the proliferation of weapons in the United States, which always comes up against opposition from the arms lobby. In Burkina, efforts have been made in the fight against smoking. We can cite decree № 2011-1052/PRES/PM/MS/MEF prohibiting smoking in public places and public transport. There is also law № 040-2010/AN on the fight against tobacco in Burkina Faso, which sets a fine of fifteen thousand CFA francs. A smoking cessation unit has also been set up within the CHU-YO. However, tobacco control seems to evolve depending on who holds the Ministry of Health portfolio. Efforts therefore remain to be made in the fight against smoking in Burkina, insofar as the ban on smoking in public places is not always respected. It is up to each Burkinabè to become aware of the danger, and to realize that in addition to the immense resources that the regular consumption of tobacco requires, it constitutes a real public health problem.

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