(English) Tobacco and Drugs Among Youths In Cameroon: The Alarm Bell of the Head of State

8 mars 2019
Image jeunes Niété

In his message to the youth on February 11, 2019, on the occasion of the 53rd edition of the National Youth Day, Paul Biya, the Head of State of Cameroonian, emphasized and deplored the extent of drugs consumption among the Cameroonian youth. « … You should not also give in to idleness that can lead to bad behaviours, such as delinquency, alcohol and drug abuse, » the President of Cameroon declared and stated that these ills affecting the youth could eventually pose a threat to the future of the country.
This statement by the highest authority of the state underscores the persistence of a problem that the 2014 studies exposed. According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) conducted by the WHO and the Ministry of Public Health in 2014, 10.1% of students (aged 13-15) are regular smokers, including 13.8 % boys and 5.7% girls. For every smoker who has died, the industry initiates many young people into smoking. In absolute terms, an average of 300,000 young Cameroonian students regularly consumes these dangerous and deadly products.
It is possible to reverse these numbers and protect these youths.
In the field, several actions are carried out. This includes, for example, the introduction of teaching on drugs and tobacco use into school curricula and awareness-raising actions by some administrations in the Ministries of Health and Social Affairs.

For its part, the Cameroonian Coalition for Tobacco Control conducts sensitization activities in schools and many other areas attracting young people. Educational talks organized regularly in schools, the affixing of no-smoking sign posts in high schools, colleges and primary schools, the encouragement of the creation and installation of anti-smoking clubs in several schools constitute some of the activities.
But in spite of these combined actions carried out so far by both the public authorities and civil society, the problem is becoming worrisome. Reason why the President of the Republic called on the government to take urgent measures to lead the relentless fight against these ills undermining the Cameroonian youths.
One of the challenges facing the government is finalizing the process of adopting a regulatory text that protects the school environment from advertising and marketing activities of the tobacco industry.
The revision of the 2006 law governing advertising in Cameroon and the adoption of its implementing text, the adoption of a national tobacco control law and the establishment of a funding mechanism for tobacco control are other aspects on which the government can act to reverse the vertiginous curve of drug use among the youths.

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