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Bleak future for cigarettes vendors

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With Zimbabwe’s cases of unemployment continuing to rise, many people have been resorting to vending, especially cigarette vending.

Norman Muvavarirwa

But it seems is no longer a lucrative venture, thanks to the police onslaught on cigarette vendors.

“I have been in this trade for the past five years. For me to survive it is because of vending, but with this ongoing crackdown on cigarette selling, it will be a dog-eat-dog situation,” said Sibare Sibare, a vendor at Mereki Shopping Centre in Warren Park, Harare.

“It seems that the poor man hardly makes huge success,” added Sibare
Sibare (32) is one of the people who have been surviving on vending.

A single cigarette costs R1 while a pack costs around $1,50.

The Warren Park-based vendor realises approximately $5 a day and this has been his source of livelihood since 2007 when he was retrenched by a local clothing company.
But given this latest development, Sibare like many other vendors across the country, has no options, but to play hide-and-seek with law enforcement agents.

A cloud of uncertainty shrouds the future of vendors in and around the country as the Zimbabwe Republic Police unleashed an onslaught targeting vendors who sell “naked” cigarettes.

This came after more than a decade since the ban was initiated.

Statutory Instrument  264 of 2002 on Public Health (Control of Tobacco) Regulations 2002 of which Section 7 reads: “No person shall sell or distribute any tobacco or tobacco products to any person except in a container on which is prominently displayed the messages — smoking is harmful to health.”

Police deputy national spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said that they were not going to tolerate vendors who sell single and naked cigarettes.

“The tobacco producers and the consumers must abide by the laws or else they will face the full wrath of the law,” he said.

However, the ban has been received as a positive stride in reducing the incidence of children accessing cigarettes and passive smoking.

Pastor Francis Maurikira of Glorious Life International
Ministries said that this should assist young people especially school-going children as this would reduce the rate of children smoking.

“Since there was no adequate action that had been taken to enforce this instrument, this
intervention has come at the right time to reduce or stop this habit of schoolchildren abusing drugs especially smoking cigarettes.

“I see this as a positive move by authorities as it is good for our health, children and Zimbabwean society as a whole.” he said.

The Zimbabwe Global Youth Tobacco Survey (2008) notes that at least one in 10 students uses tobacco products and 3% smoke cigarettes.

Tobacco-related diseases such as cancer are said to be claiming more lives regardless of the fact that the crop is one Zimbabwe’s cashcows.

The statutory instrument on the control of tobacco products was promulgated in the interest of curbing the spread of communicable diseases.

Tobacco smoke is made up of about 300 different chemicals, 40 of which are known to be poisonous.

The  Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Routine Monitoring System last year revealed that deaths recorded in 2008 emanating from respiratory conditions associated with smoking were estimated at around 1 500, followed by viral infections deaths, which stood at 1 320.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the major global causes of death are shifting from HIV and Aids to tobacco-related diseases.

WHO estimates that 8 million people will die annually from tobacco use by the year 2030.
The WHO survey of 2008 indicated that 21% of men in Zimbabwe smoke cigarettes.

The danger with tobacco is that it also affects non-smokers and babies during pregnancy.
Tobacco use is a major risk factor for death from heart attacks and strokes.

Deaths from smoking are directly related to smoking prevalence and exposure to passive smoke. Smoking prevalence is higher among men than women.

Women are most often the victims of passive smoking, illness, and death, particularly in countries with a high male and low female smoking prevalence.

The 2006 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey showed 12% of Zimbabweans being smokers of which 15% were men and 0,4% females.

Tobacco also contributes to the causes of life-threatening diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis, asthma and cardio-vascular diseases; hence, the need to control its use.

Health experts agree that each cigarette a person smokes shortens his/her life by 5½ minutes. It takes 10 years for one’s body to shake off the effects of smoking.

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