A meeting between the Cameroonian Coalition for Tobacco Control (C3T) and some journalists practicing in the city of Douala took place on February 8 at the Lewat hotel in Douala. Commonly called « Media Dialogue », this meeting held as part of activities to commemorate the 52nd edition of the National Youth Day in Cameroon.
The youth day is generally a moment of great excitement for young people; but it is also a time marked by an increase in social ills like the consumption of tobacco and its derivatives. A 2014 study shows that in Cameroon, 300,000 young people between the ages of 13 and 15 regularly consume tobacco products. It is for this reason that journalists were invited to raise awareness on smoking and the harmful effects of tobacco.
The objectives of the meeting was beyond sensitization.It also aimed at mobilizing journalists to help in advocacy activities directed at administrative and municipal authorities, as well as other decision-makers. The journalists were urged to draw the attention of these decision makers to their role in tobacco control through the adoption and implementation of appropriate regulatory measures. One of such measures is the protection of school children from the aggressive marketing of the tobacco industry. Studies have shown that the youth are particularly targeted by the tobacco industry and that tobacco and tobacco products sales, advertising posters and other promotional activities are conducted around schools to attract students.
Following the results and recommendations of a 2013 survey on adult smoking, measures to combat passive smoking should be taken. This survey indicates that nearly 7 million Cameroonians are involuntarily exposed to the smoke of others in public places such as public transport, bars, restaurants, snacks etc. Faced with this situation, it is necessary to create 100% non-smoking environments in order to protect the health of the populations.
Advertising on tobacco products observed daily in the main cities of the country and even in rural areas, deserves to be regulated through texts prohibiting global advertising for tobacco and its products. It is also expected of the country’s leaders, the adoption and implementation of a national tobacco control law in accordance with the provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Journalists must accompany the C3T in advocacy leading to the adoption of such a law, and regulations necessary for the control of tobacco in Cameroon.
In response to the Coalition’s call, journalists who massively participated in the meeting produced articles for the various radio, television, print and online media they represented. They made the commitment to constitute a pool of journalists to effectively support the fight against tobacco in Cameroon.
It must be remembered that the meeting of February 8th is the second of its kind in the city of Douala. It is in line with similar activities already conducted so far in Yaoundé, Ngaoundéré, Bafoussam, Bertoua and Ebolowa.