The tobacco regulation that came into effect last week – it does not matter that smokers make a choice – sounds a great move.
Our figures for a small nation like Namibia are staggering and scary. Worse is the fact that most of the smokers are teenage girls and mothers.
The argument about losing money is just but one of those things businesses say to protect their interests.
What is at stake is not how much Government earns through tobacco but what it loses through tobacco. It’s like a broken bottom bucket where water comes in and then out without making much difference.
Where tobacco companies see N$1.3b loss, we see thousands of broken and ‘burnt beyond recognition’ lives. Where tobacco companies see job losses, we see overloaded infrastructure that can’t cope with cancer patients who rely on the little budget Government doles out to Dr Richard Kamwi’s ministry. Where tobacco companies see a bright future of endless profits, we see orphaned children struggling to make a future.
It’s a vicious circle that benefits tobacco companies while eating into the Government’s budget badly like a worm.
Our only hope is that the regulation will find enough support from all those concerned. The punishment outlined in the regulations should be meted out without fear or favour.
The fear the British American Tobacco has of tobacco bootlegging is real. We hope in earnest that Government will act to make sure that no such thing happens. This is so because it would not make much sense to clamp down on one practice only to see another blossom.
How we hope this too could happen in alcohol and any other intoxicating beverages which have more harmful effects than tobacco. We wait the day when Dr Kamwi will waddle into the murky shebeen waters and scoop the dirt. This is where the nation’s hopes are sinking. This is where the nation’s future is dying. Whole generations are wiped out in shebeens. We ask Dr Kamwi to work on this too. It’s a good fight for an energetic doctor.