Bolivia: World No Tobacco Day focuses on youth


Translation from original Spanish article kindly provided by Stan Shatenstein.

The Bolivian news website laRazón reported that for World No Tobacco Day, the Health and Sport Ministry, in coordination with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), WHO, the  Municipal Government of La Paz, the Bolivian Police and Armed Forces organised a  festival to inform people of the negative effects that nicotine produces on the  body. Medical school graduates of the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés and Escuela Nacional de Salud also participated in the event that took place in the Plaza Camacho in La Paz, where music was provided by the group Bajo  Fianza.

The slogan chosen for this year’s WNTD was “Ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship” and this was adopted by 19 countries, including Panamá and Colombia, to reduce tobacco use. Article 13 of the FCTC establishes a “comprehensive ban of all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship” that “would reduce the consumption of  tobacco products”

The WNTD slogan will also be used in the country to stop tobacco companies from recruiting younger smokers.

A translation of the rest of the article is below (original link in Spanish here).


Study reveals young people now begin smoking at a younger  age

A study has shown that the age of initiation for smoking has gone down from  14.6 to 13.7 years of age and there has been an increase of smoking among girls  (young women).

According to data from the Latin American Centre for Scientific Study  (Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Científica, or Celin) going back two  decades, tobacco use began, on average, at 14.6 years of age while the latest  statistics, from 2011, show that Bolivian adolescents now start at 13.7 years of  age. The study by Celin also points out the increasingly problematic tobacco use by girls. Twenty years ago, 14.8% of young women smoked compared to 43.6% of young men, a gap of 28.8%. By 2011, that gap had shrunk to 9.9%.

The data were gathered in some twenty cities across the country and looked at 12,254 students between the ages of 12 and 21.

The Vice-Minister of Health Promotion, Martín Maturano, noted that the government was taking action to put a stop to tobacco use: “We first want to inform people of the health effects of smoking. Tobacco contains 3,600 substances – nearly one hundred of those are toxic – as well as nicotine, which is addictive.”

He explained that an ongoing communication policy is being implemented through college health services and also noted that eight graphic warnings had recently been added to cigarette packs showing the different risks associated with the product.

Willy Alanoca, in charge of Drug Use Prevention at the Ministry of Health pointed out the tobacco companies specifically try to hook the youngest kids.  “The Bolivian tobacco industry reaches the youngest kids by giving them CDs, iPods, backpacks and flash drives. They want to reach this audience, not 40-to-50-year-old addicted smokers. The teens are going to replace those smokers who are killed by their tobacco use or who quit.”

According to Mr Alanoca, the Ministry’s study of ‘Tobacco industry negligence and strategy in Bolivia’ gathered images of minors selling this unhealthy product. He also criticized the industry’s use of concerts and other promotional events. “It’s precisely this type of event that can make teens feel attracted to cigarettes. The marketing campaigns aim at this target audience.”

Another analysis showed high levels of air contamination in discotheques in six cities, Alanoca confirmed. He also objected to the fact that club owners do not enforce the rules mandating smoke-free public places, especially those where young people are present.

The other aspect of the law being violated is the prohibition on selling cigarettes at locations near colleges and universities.

The Anti-tobacco Law of 2005 ratified the WHO FCTC and created the Inter-institutional Commission on Tobacco Control and Prevention.

Smoke-free spaces not being respected

Willy Alanoca went to a restaurant and sat down in an area marked “for non-smokers”. However, two smokers were sitting nearby smoking. Alanoca complained but the owner sided with the smokers.

Alanoca explained there are no smoke-free public areas in Bolivia. He insisted there should not be smoking and no-smoking areas (next to each other) because “the smoke doesn’t know how to read but, rather, goes where the wind takes it.”

Martín Maturano, the Vice-Minister of Health Promotion noted that other rules also fall short. “It’s forbidden to sell singles or partial packs, but this practice continues.” As well, kiosks on the street feature tobacco ads even though this is forbidden.

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