Kenya’s Public Health Specialists have urged Kenyan Lawmakers to adopt the innovative idea set by Sweden ,to encourage Kenyans to quit smoking.
Sweden will be the first country in the world to have “smoke free” status when its comes to tobacco smoking prevalence rate drops below 5% in the next few months based on the current trends.
That is the level which a nation is considers smoke free by the World Health Organization.
During an international research seminar in Stockholm last month had that Sweden had achieved an historic change by developing a specific formula towards an alternative by producing nicotine products such as vapes and oral nicotine pouches, as less harmful to traditional cigarettes.
Speaking in Nairobi, Wednesday April 6, 2023 Dr. Michael Kariuki, consultant Pediatrician epidemiologist ,and researcher said that if Kenya can follow Sweden’s example and facilitate smokers ‘transitioning to less harmful alternatives ,it could save lives in our country.
“Sweden has made these tobacco harm reduction products as accessible, acceptable and affordable as possible to adult smokers. By doing so, they have effectively wiped-out smoking in a country 50 years ago.49% of men were smoking regularly.
His partner Dr. Nick Mutisya , Consultant pediatrician and researcher, pointed out that smoking in the country remains high despite their being strict restrictions, which are prohibition of smoking in public places and mandatory health warnings on product packaging.
He also warned that if the situation is not changed Kenya could fail to meet WHO’s target of 9.7% smoking prevalence by 2025.
“Like the Swedes, our policymakers must appreciate that moving away from smoking is very difficult and that we need to provide smokers with an escape route,” he said.
“The Government is blocking that escape route by classifying vapes and pouches as tobacco products and subjecting them to high taxes and marketing restrictions that apply to the far harmful cigarettes.”
He also said that health professionals and smokers should be educated in the science involved , so that they can make informed changes.
the success of the “Swedish Model” is highlighted in the report The Swedish Experience: A road map for a smoke -free society.