I am delighted to announce that the World Vapers’ Alliance has this week welcomed six new partners to the alliance: Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) Kenya, THR Nigeria, THR Uganda, THR Congo, THR Malawi, and their alliance, Campaign for Safer Alternatives.
These great organisations have all joined the WVA and we will be pooling our strengths and cooperating in our fight to stress the benefits of harm reduction around the world.
Smoking remains a serious health issue in Africa. According to the Campaign for Safer Alternatives, over 250,000 Africans die every year due to smoking related diseases and 14% of the continent still smokes. If current trends continue, they estimate that 26% of the world’s smokers, about 413 million people, will live in Africa by 2100.
Despite the high prevalence of smoking and the high volume of people dying due to smoking-related diseases, awareness about tobacco harm reduction, and vaping, in Africa remains minimal.
THR Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Congo and Malawi, together with the Campaign for Safer Alternatives, have been working tirelessly to educate African policymakers and smokers that less harmful alternatives to smoking do exist and are viable, if only they were widely adopted and endorsed.
There is an urgent need for an information campaign stressing the benefits that vaping could have for Africa as barriers to vaping emerge. For example, earlier this year Kenya increased taxes on e-liquids, making the safer alternative more expensive than smoking traditional cigarettes. Joseph Magero, Chairman of the Campaign for Safer Alternatives, said that this has made vaping in Kenya “unaffordable.”
Data from WVA Partner The Consumer Choice Center shows that in Uganda alone, 350,000 smokers could switch to vaping, a method of THR 95% safer than smoking, if the country endorsed vaping in a similar manner to the UK.
This would reduce Ugandan smoking rates by between 12.5-25%. Reducing smoking rates by this amount would drastically improve the overall health of the nation as it would reduce cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions and cancer, meaning people can live longer in better health.
I look forward to working with and assisting our African partners’ campaign to make policymakers and smokers more aware of vaping and tobacco harm reduction.
I am extremely encouraged by how the WVA continues to go from strength to strength as more organisations and advocates join our campaign. We are stronger together, and we are making our #vapersvoice heard.