Joe O. Asila, ACNC, Tobacco Control Advocacy, SocialNEEDS Network, 1st Floor, Chekmula Building, Jomo Kenyatta Highway, P.O. Box 2348, Kisumu, 40100, Kenya
There is a renewed focus on the need for global partnership to enhance development in the world's poorest nations. There is an opportunity now to incorporate tobacco control into global development initiatives such as MDGs. This could save developing countries millions of lives and increase productivity and economic progress for decades to come. There are some very cardinal characteristics of MDGs which include:- a) Two way compact of mutual obligation b) All MDGs are interrelated and interdependent c) Equity in implementation is key to promotion of MDGs both globally and among poorest. There are opportunity costs of tobacco that are not recognized by MDGs. There are also macro economic costs of tobacco such as millions of hectares of arable land under tobacco cultivation, which could be used to feed many more millions. Most countries are net importers of tobacco and profits go to a few transnational companies. Tobacco use deprives the world productivity due to premature deaths, health costs and disability. All countries should sign and ratify WHO FCTC and adopt multi pronged approach on tobacco control as one way to achieve poverty reduction such as tax increase, limited tobacco use among the poor. Civil society must work to overcome political barriers to tobacco control, involve media, politicians, professional organizations and more lobbyists in these efforts. EC and SIDA have included tobacco control in their development strategies which should be emulated by others as well as encourage exchanges of experts to provide technical assistance on all aspects of tobacco control.