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The report shared on Monday noted specifically that introduction of picture warnings significantly increased the effectiveness of warnings/FILE

Capital Health

Tobacco control study reports 72pc awareness of warning messages among smokers

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 31 – The fight against the use of tobacco use is progressing well after a  new study released by the Ministry of Health indicated that awareness of warning messages among smokers in Kenya increased from 64 per cent to 72 per cent between 2012 and 2018.

The International Tobacco Control (ITC) Study which was conducted among 1,500 tobacco users and 600 non-tobacco users indicated that the realization of health risks associated with smoking also rose by 15 per cent.

The report shared on Monday noted specifically that introduction of picture warnings significantly increased the effectiveness of warnings.

“The ITC Kenya Surveys found that awareness of the warnings increased from 64 per cent to 72 per cent of smokers; thinking about the health risks of smoking increased from 28 per cent to 43 per cent of smokers. Smokers who said that health warnings made them “a lot” more likely to quit increased from 24 per cent to 38 per cent,” the report indicated.

The survey further found that only 12 per cent of smokeless tobacco users reported noticing health warnings “often” on smokeless tobacco.

Seventy-three per cent of smokers interviewed were in favor of more health information on cigarette health warnings while another 84 per cent were in favor of more health information on smokeless tobacco warnings.

The sale of single cigarettes was listed as the main challenge in reducing tobacco use after most smokers reported a high purchase rate of single cigarettes.

“The 2018 survey found that 82 per cent of smokers reported last purchasing single cigarettes rather than a pack, about the same as in 2012.

As part of its recommendation, the report raised the need for Kenya’s existing ban on packs containing fewer than 12 cigarettes to be more strongly enforced.

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“There is also a need for Kenya to increase the size of their health warnings, from their current 30 percent to at least 50 percent, which is the required size of warnings under the FCTC,” the report added.

The threat of menthol cigarettes in Kenya was also highlighted even as the study noted that about 1 in 5 smokers in Kenya who have a regular brand of cigarettes smoked menthols, higher than in most high-income countries.

“Over two-thirds of Kenyan smokers incorrectly believe that menthols are less harmful than cigarettes,” the survey added.

Canada and the European Union have banned menthol cigarettes because menthol reduces the harshness of tobacco smoke, which makes it easier for children and young adults to take up smoking.

The report calls for Kenya to join more than 30 countries and jurisdictions that have banned menthol cigarettes, including Canada, Senegal, Nigeria, Uganda, Ethiopia, and the EU.

The survey is part of the 29-country ITC Project, which since 2002, has evaluated policies of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global health treaty which Kenya ratified in 2004.

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