Despite warning signs on cigarette packs and strong tobacco control laws, more people continue pick up the habit to smoke cigarettes every day.
If you visit any smoking zone in Nairobi, Nakuru or Kisumu and speak to any smoker, either they do not care about quitting, and the ones that do lack sufficient support or cessation services.
There is quit line offered from NACADA, one that if you attempt to call you will find a very clueless counselor when it comes to matters smoking. Smokers rarely quit the habit through counselling, more has to be done to assist them.
Perhaps Kenya should emulate what England’s approach to ending smoking. In England, smokers who find it difficult to quit are encouraged to switch to safer alternatives, like electronic cigarettes.
Safer nicotine products like Swedish Snus, E-cigarettes and Heat-Not-Burn have played a major role in reducing smoking rates in Europe and America.
The government of England launched a campaign to convince their smokers that vaping (use of e-cigarettes) is a significantly less damaging alternative to smoking. Public health England (PHE) claims that e-cigarettes are 95% safer than traditional cigarettes.
If we incorporate such approaches in the fight against smoking, perhaps we can finally win the war against this vice and see a significant reduction in lung cancer cases.
Smokers in Kenya need honest and accurate information on safer nicotine products, in order for them to make informed choices. We need to understand that smokers smoke for the nicotine but die from tar.
What kills in a cigarette is combustion, not nicotine. The World Health Organization understands this fact, this is why they recommend nicotine patches and gum, to help smokers kick the habit.
The only way Kenya can achieve a smoke-free nation in our lifetime is by incorporating safer nicotine products in the fight against smoking. Sweden did so, today less than 5% of their population smoke.