Contextual Brief On Tobacco Control

Tobacco stands as the foremost cause of premature deaths and preventable diseases globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), half of all long-term smokers face a spectrum of non-communicable diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart and lung diseases. In Sierra Leone, an estimated 640,000 individuals use tobacco, with smoking prevalence rising, particularly among men and youth.

The Sierra Leone Demographic Health Survey indicates that approximately 18% of men and 3% of women aged 15-49 are tobacco users, with smoking prevalence escalating among the youth. The Global Youth Survey of 2017 reveals concerning figures, stating that 12.1% of students, 14.5% of boys, and 9.7% of girls in Sierra Leone use tobacco products.

Cigarette smoking is also on the rise, with economic consequences. The country records 3,300 tobacco-related deaths annually, contributing to a loss of 404 billion Leones, 73% of which results from economic productivity decline.

This comprehensive law regulates the production, importation, packaging, advertising, and use of tobacco and nicotine products, aligning with the WHO FCTC provisions. The Act, signed into law in April 2023, prohibits smoking in public places and tobacco/nicotine product advertisements. Despite its ratification of the WHO FCTC in 2009, Sierra Leone is now among the latest 38 countries in the WHO African region to fully protect its population against tobacco and nicotine harm. While the law awaits full implementation, the Y-ACT coalition on tobacco control in Sierra Leone has made it a priority advocacy issue. Their focus is on urging the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to champion the enforcement of the Act’s provisions. Effective implementation promises to promote public health, deter youth initiation into tobacco use, aid current users in quitting, and shield non-smokers from the health risks associated with tobacco exposure in Sierra Leone. The Y-ACT coalition remains steadfast in its commitment to realizing these crucial objectives and combating the pervasive impact of tobacco on the nation.

World No Tobacco Day Country Brief

On May 31, 2023, Sierra Leone joined the global celebration of World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) alongside WHO and public health advocates. Aligned with the theme “Grow food, not tobacco,” the 2023 campaign sought to spotlight alternative crop opportunities for tobacco farmers, promoting sustainable and nutritious cultivation. The global initiative also aimed to expose the tobacco industry’s attempts to obstruct efforts to replace tobacco with sustainable crops, addressing the worldwide food crisis. Notably, Sierra Leone marked this occasion with the recent signing of the Tobacco and Nicotine Act of 2022. Leveraging this milestone, our activities focused on publicizing the bill, raising awareness, and sensitizing the public through community engagement, media interactions, and participation in the World No Tobacco Day symposium organized by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

Through community engagements in Makeni and Freetown, including visits to marketplaces, bus stations, and ataya bases, we facilitated dialogue sessions, discussed the Tobacco Control Act’s provisions, and provided information on accessing the legislation. Targeting diverse groups such as Okada riders, drivers, market sellers, and young people in Ataya bases, we effectively raised awareness about the dangers of tobacco use and distributed tobacco factsheets to further enhance understanding. We also collaborated with various media outlets, including Hope FM in Makeni, YACAN, Afri Radio, AYV television, and Radio Freetown. Our radio and television programs reached 1000-2000 individuals, disseminating key tobacco control messages.

Policy Action:

In a significant stride towards effective implementation, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation formalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Sierra Leone Police. This strategic partnership underscores their joint commitment to enforcing the provisions outlined in the Tobacco and Nicotine Control Act of 2022. This collaborative effort ensures a unified approach to advancing tobacco control measures and safeguarding public health in Sierra Leone.



The Y-ACT Coalition for Tobacco Control in Sierra Leone is a strategic alliance comprising 10 youth-led organizations, with one acting as the sub-grantee leading the coalition. Established as part of the Y-ACT implementation approach to ensure coordinated advocacy, this initiative, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spans four years and covers Sierra Leone, Zambia, and South Africa. The primary objective is to actively engage young people in advocating for policy changes related to tobacco control based on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The Y-ACT Coalition for Tobacco Control in Sierra Leone plays a pivotal role as the main driver of this project within the country.

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