Desire B Mhlabi is Laboratory Director at Optimum Health Medical Laboratories.
Q- Kindly break down the chemical compositions in cigarettes in detail and rate the dangers of these substances to humans and their effects.
A – There are over 500 ingredients in cigarettes and when burned, cigarettes create more than 7000 chemicals. Around 70 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer and many are toxic. I’ll mention a few of them: TAR- also used for paving roads. Nicotine- also used as a pesticide. Toluene- also used in paint manufacturing. Lead- also used in batteries. Formaldehyde Carbon monoxide. Butane/ Benzene / Arsenic Acetic Acid/ Acetone etc.
Q – From a laboratory perspective, how often do you deal with samples of cancers related to tobacco products.
A – Test called Carcinoembryonic Antigen CEA (substance found in blood of people who have colon cancer as well as people who smoke tobacco. CEA is a protein that is normal in developing a foetus but drops to low or non-existent levels after birth. Because CEA isn’t typically found in adults, its detection can be related to certain cancers, lung cancer being one of them.
Q – There are new tobacco products which like e-cigarettes, what chemical compositions do they have?
A – Electronic cigarettes (e- cigarettes) often contain ingredients such as propylene, glycol, ethylene glycol and polyethylene glycol mixed with concentrated flavours. Limited studies have evaluated the effects of e- cigarettes on human health. But it’s been found out that they may contain additional impurities in the liquid or vapour as well as toxins. Current challenges include labelling inconsistent with actual contents e.g. Where its labelled nicotine free some studies using liquid chromatography (HPLC) has demonstrated availability of nicotine in so called nicotine free samples.
Q – The tobacco control bill seeks to protect non-smokers by creating a safe environment in the work place, public places and so forth. How much chemicals can be puffed into air by smokers and are they deadly?
A – Passive smoking means breathing in other people’s tobacco smoke. Exhaled smoke is called exhaled mainstream smoke. The smoke drifting from a lit cigarette is called sidestream smoke. The combination of mainstream and sidestream smoke is called second-hand smoke (SHS) or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Side stream smoke from the end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe is unfiltered. It has more harmful toxins than mainstream smoke that someone breathes out.
Q – So one may ask, How does secondhand smoke affect nonsmokers?
Secondhand smoke damages the body in many different ways. Adults exposed to secondhand smoke may experience: Cardiovascular (heart, veins and arteries) disease like high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart attack or stroke. Lung problems like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and asthma. Increased risks of lung cancer and cancers in the brain, bladder, stomach, breast and more. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to experience: Frequent coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath or other breathing problems. Frequent ear infections. Frequent and more severe asthma attacks. Respiratory infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Damage to eyes (like cataracts) and teeth (like tooth decay). Learning and behaviour problems. SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Secondhand smoke affects anyone near burned or exhaled tobacco, but some groups have more smoke exposure:
Service industry workers, such as restaurant servers and bartenders: Anyone who works near groups of smokers may be unable to avoid secondhand smoke. Pregnant women: Secondhand smoke affects unborn children and their mothers. Lower amounts of oxygen available for the baby can increase foetal heart rates or lower the birth weight. Women may experience miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or ectopic pregnancy. Infants, children and pets: young children and animals can’t always choose to leave a smoke-filled room. The constant exposure increases the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
Q – What measures are other countries doing to protect their citizens on smoking?
A – Other Countries become party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control with Designated smoking areas Controlling tobacco advertising Ensuring tobacco packaging and labelling is not misleading Sales restrictions to minors
With the advent of COVID-19, mental health and psychosocial has become a major concern around the world. There is significant increase in the rates of stress, anxiety and depression globally.
In creating awareness and support on mental health and psychosocial support, the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP) hosted a virtual regional mental health and Psychosocial Support Forum (MHPSS).
The MHPSS Forum brings together stakeholders from different sectors providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support services particularly to children, youth, families and the workforce, as well as Academia, International Cooperating Partners, Community Implementing Partners and the media.
It aims to facilitate learning, information exchange and advocacy to promote mainstreaming of Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (PSS) into policies, programmes, services and funding priorities for children and youth in Botswana.
The event is a partnership between The Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP), and the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), with Project Concern International Botswana (PCI) and Marang Child Care Network Trust (MCCNT).
The event is held every two years, and Botswana started hosting the Forum in 2014. The theme for this year is ‘Innovate, Integrate, Thrive,’ which prompts us to find new ways to survive the COVID-19 pandemic which we can mainstream into our daily activities.
The Northern Regional Forum in Mahalapye was held on 17-19 August 2021 while the Southern Regional Forum in Ghanzi, was from 21-23 September 2021. Findings from both regions will be presented at the National Forum to be held in Kasane on 12-14 October 2021. The event is held in collaboration with local authorities in each region.
The event is structured in this manner: The first day is a Special Session for Children, where children in the region will talk about the challenges they face that affect their mental health, how they cope and what they think can be done to support them.
The second day is the official opening where the lead ministry gives a keynote address, and presentations from service providers in the region. The third and last day is abstract presentations from different speakers on thematic areas under the theme.
The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will hold a Hybrid GMES and Africa Regional workshop from 27 – 29 September 2021, at Safari Hotel in Windhoek, Namibia.
The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) Initiative is a programme formed out of mutual cooperation between Africa and Europe with a focus on Earth Observation (EO) systems.
It was formed to respond to the global need to manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security by providing information to policymakers, scientists, private sector and the public. GMES and Africa aims to promote development of local capacities, institutional, human and technical resources for access to and exploitation of Earth Observation (EO) based services on an operational basis for sustainable development in Africa.
In its first phase, GMES has funded 13 consortiums in Africa. In Southern African, SASSCAL-led consortia is implementing the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Service for Transboundary Basins in Southern Africa (WeMAST) Project while CSIR is leading the Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa (MARCOSouth). SASSCAL Members of the consortium include the University of Botswana, University of Zambia, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Western Cape and Midlands State University, South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of Zambia.
CSIR led consortium includes ABALOBI, Benguela Current Convention, Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Sea Rescue Institute, University of Dar Es Salaam, University of Eduardo Mondlane and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association).
The workshop will also provide an opportunity to promote and encourage mutual exchanges in terms of sharing best practices, knowledge and experiences as well as allow for the exchange of information and knowledge on new and innovative Earth Observation technologies developed under the programmes and their alignment with the region’s sustainable development strategies.
The workshop will also reveal trends in the use of earth observation data to monitor and assess wetland conditions, threats to sustainable utilisation of wetland resources as well as updating stakeholders on how climate change variability and drought is continually affecting Sub-Saharan Africa’s surface water resources.
The workshop’s envisaged outcomes will be to ensure shared knowledge and understanding of the new and innovative Earth Observation technologies, and their application to society. Expected to visit is a broader pool of international delegates from the two continents (Europe and Africa) both physically and virtual.
This includes the member countries policy makers, line ministers from the SADC countries, public and private sector stakeholders, implementers, Basin Commissions, researchers, and any other stakeholders whose activities are related to coastal areas, rivers, and their ecosystems.
Some vendors have been misled Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce
Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods
“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.
Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.
The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.
Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.
I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.
The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.
Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.