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The Unheard Voices in the Tobacco Spaces

Guest blog by Rebecca Amoding of Tobacco Harm Reduction, Uganda

Tobacco harm reduction is a public health strategy that is about minimising the negative health impact of smoking. Strategies like these are very important to me because a significant proportion of smokers are women and girls.

In our world, policies that affect women are usually not made by women. The tobacco spaces are not any different, there are prevailing gendered and other social hierarchies that influence policy and research. The global tobacco control framework and its implementation by state governments are largely gender blind.

Of 8 million annual smoking-related deaths worldwide, 1.5 million are women, this is why I decided to become a tobacco Harm reduction advocate.

In my country Uganda, women and girls who smoke are considered outcasts, this means that they will face more difficulty in accessing information, accessing safer nicotine alternatives and will be more likely to consume illicit tobacco products. I believe women’s rights are human rights in all measure no matter their decision to smoke. They deserve a right to better health, information and support, instead of discrimination.

There are no current thematic strategies that seek to help women and girls who smoke. I believe listening to voices of women and girls who smoke is the first step to solving this public health crisis.

Having women take a lead in agitating for accessibility, availability and affordability of the various low risk nicotine alternatives is paramount, and as a result it is expected to lead to a huge drop in smoking prevalence among women and ultimately the smoking demographic as this would be the first step towards affirmative actions that guarantee that African women in THR receive the acceptance they deserve

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