Kenyan puffs his leg away

May 29, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 – Amos Murigo, will mark World No Tobacco Day on Sunday without his leg.

It was amputated because blood flow to his left foot was restricted as a result of heavy smoking.

“I fell sick in 1993 because of smoking,” Mr Murigo told Capital News in Nairobi.

“The illness progressed until 1997 when the little toe on my left foot began to develop a problem. It turned black in color and thereafter it began to shed flesh until only the bone remained.”

A year after his surgery, and free of nicotine, Mr Murigo is a glaring example of the effects tobacco smoking can have on one’s health. It’s not all about lung cancer.

“The after effects of smoking can be disastrous to smokers both before and after they have stopped smoking,”  says Tobacco Control Board chairman Peter Odhiambo.

“Many a times I have had to remove organs like the liver, lungs and kidneys of my patients and even my colleagues that have been affected by this vice.”

Tobacco Health Warnings

As the world marks World No Tobacco Day, the Ministry of Public Health said sensitisation exercises on the dangers of smoking must be carried out to educate the public.

The global commemoration will be observed under the theme ‘Tobacco Health Warnings,’ which Public Health senior Deputy Secretary Nimrod Waweru said was the responsibility of tobacco industry players.

“Studies have shown that the health warnings on tobacco packages not only motivate smokers to quit but also deter non-smokers from allowing smokers to expose them to these risks,” he explained.

Blatant health warnings will discourage children from using this harmful substance, the government opined.

The Tobacco Control Board warned that stern action would be taken against outlets selling tobacco products without warnings.

“(The fines) range from Sh500,000 to Sh1 million or jail term or both depending on which section of the Act has been contravened,” Dr Odhiambo said.

The Board chairman insisted that any tobacco products must also bear on their cover pictorials of the side effects of cigarette smoking.

“Pictures carry the message straight on. If I say tobacco will make your legs dried up, you will probably try to imagine what that will look like,” Mr Odhiambo stated. “If you see the picture, you get the message faster.”

Tobacco health warnings appear on packs of cigarettes and are among the strong defences against the global campaign against the Tobacco abuse.

Kenya is among countries that have adopted and ratified World Health Organisation guidelines adopted in 2008 stipulating that the warnings should be pictures and appear on both sides of the package.

According to the convention, the warnings should also be large and clear and must describe the specific illnesses caused by tobacco.

Article 11 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco control commits more than 160 parties to require that tobacco products carry health warnings describing the harmful effects of tobacco use.

Both pictorial and worded warnings are approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) because of their effectiveness of convincing people to quit smoking.


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