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Zimbabwe Rolls Out Anti-Smoking Campaign

The Zimbabwean government embarks on an anti-smoking campaign this week hoping to convince hundreds of thousands of tobacco smokers to quit the practice that kills about 6 million people around the world every year.

The health ministry will officially launch the campaign in Binga, northern Zimbabwe on Friday where officials will highlight the dangers of smoking.

Tobacco smoking is associated with fatal lung and heart diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, among others.

Health Minister Henry Madzorera says the nation-wide campaign targets both active and passive smokers as they face the same risks. He took a swipe at tobacco companies for running deceiving ads to entice smokers, especially the young.

"We are dealing with an industry that opposes our campaign," Madzorera said. "They go all out to advertise smoking as if it is good. They show you nice beautiful girls, half-dressed as if to say if you smoked you would get one of them."

Besides facing stiff resistance from tobacco companies, the government awareness drive is sure to run into trouble with farmers whose livelihoods are anchored on the golden leaf.

As is in many countries, lighting up in public places such as buses, clinics and restaurants is outlawed in Zimbabwe, and officials say they will remind non-smokers they have a right to report those who smoke in a prohibited place.

Social commentator Mandlenkosi Gatsheni told VOA for the anti-smoking campaign to bear fruits, the government should disseminate its message in the media in addition to other methods.