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Youth Constitute 15 Percent Of Cameroon 

By Eveline Mbonghe* — A 2013 survey report by the Cameroon Coalition Against Tobacco, CCAT, reveals that 15 percent of the country’s 17.5 percent of the smoking population are young people aged 15 and thereabouts.

Though the organisation has been pushing for an anti-tobacco law to be urgently implemented in the country, youth are indifferent and keep on smoking. The reasons for youth indulging in cigarette smoking vary.  Samuel, a boy of 20, said; “I think about something so much and I can’t seem to gather my facts, I take some sticks of cigarette to have a cool head.”

Another youth, Benjamin Eyong, 17, a security guard, said he smokes to have courage. “I smoke only at night when I am at work. I don’t smoke during the day,” he stated. He said he needs cigarettes to give him courage to face the dangers of the night. “I smoke especially when I am in a drinking and enjoyment mood. I actually don’t like smoking but I do it when I am with my friends so that they don’t laugh at me,” Frank Ndassi told The Post.
Not only young boys do smoke, girls also indulge.

Danielle Chatue said she smokes to show off. She also affirmed that when she smokes, she is seen as a big girl. She likes it that way and will not spare the opportunity to be referred to as a big girl, either by young or elderly people. Linda Kamga, 19, told The Post that she smokes when she has problems, especially emotional ones.

“I started smoking two years back when I found out that the boy I loved so much cheated on me and dumped me. Since then, I smoke when I am emotionally down,” she said. Though many of the youth are aware of the public message that tobacco seriously damages health of smokers and non-smokers alike, they are addicted to it, thus cannot stop.

“I follow up programmes on tobacco consumption but I still find it very difficult to stop.  I know I will stop some day but I don’t know when,” Robert Damidjo told The Post. According to Dr. Maloine, smoking has some very bad physical signs; smelly mouth and body odour, the blackening of teeth and the gums as well as reddening of the lips. Dr. Maloine further stated that smoking accelerates respiratory and pulmonary infection.

“When a person smokes, he cannot carry out the same physical activities like a person who does not, because he will not be able to breathe normally. This is because the respiratory system is affected,” Dr. Maloine explained. He added that smoking leads to cancer which easily results to the death. Dr. Maloine said that non-smokers also incur the same damages of cigarettes as the smoker. Thus, he advised non-smokers to shun smokers.

While the Cameroonian population is waiting for the Government to intensify the fight against smoking, some bar and drinking spot proprietors provide smoking rooms for customers.
In addition, some taxi drivers paste “no smoking” stickers in their vehicles. Cameroon, however, became a signatory to the World Health Organisation Convention for Tobacco Consumption, WHO-FCTC, in May 2006.

*(UB Journalism Student On Internship)

First published in The Post print edition no 01463

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