Zambia Tobacco Control Overview

Zambia faces a significant challenge with tobacco use, as highlighted by the Ministry of Health’s 2019 report, which indicates a smoking prevalence of 24% in men and 7.8% in women. Predictions from the World Health Organization suggest a potential increase of 300,000 smokers in Zambia by 2025. Despite being among Africa’s top five tobacco leaf producers with a notable economic contribution, Zambia’s tobacco industry faces internal challenges. 

The 2019 statement by the Ministry of Health revealed that tobacco represents only a small percentage of total agricultural exports and employs only 0.5% of small and medium-scale farmers. Moreover, 60% of tobacco farmers in Zambia are considering switching to other crops. The country is also witnessing a surge in tobacco manufacturing capacity, exemplified by facilities like those established by British American Tobacco Zambia and Roland Imperial Tobacco, which produce over 20 million cigarettes daily. However, cigarettes are becoming more affordable, with a notable decrease in inflation-adjusted prices between 2002 and 2016.

Zambia’s tobacco control roadmap involves legislation dating back to the Tobacco Levy of 1967, followed by regulations such as the Public Health (Tobacco) Regulations of 1992. While Zambia signed the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2008, enforcement challenges persist, and regulations introduced in 2008 lack compliance with the FCTC. Despite having subordinate legislation addressing aspects like smoking in public places, the absence of a comprehensive national tobacco policy hinders effective control efforts. The delay in policy development is attributed to factors such as the country’s weak economy, a strong tobacco industry presence, and poor coordination among stakeholders. Efforts to establish a comprehensive tobacco control policy face obstacles, including disagreements, communication issues, and leadership challenges at the engagement level. Overcoming these hurdles and fostering principled engagement is crucial for realizing the elusive goal of a comprehensive tobacco policy in Zambia.

Zambia No Tobacco Day

The World No Tobacco Day Awareness Campaign, organized by Copper Rose Zambia (CRZ) on May 31, 2023, aimed to address the pressing public health issue of tobacco use in Zambia, where 14.6% of adults smoke, resulting in over 10,000 preventable deaths each year. 

The campaign focused on raising awareness about the dangers of tobacco use, with particular emphasis on adolescents and young people. Objectives included educating about health hazards, promoting behaviour change, and advocating for effective tobacco control measures, including the enactment of the Tobacco Control Bill. The campaign involved meticulous planning, incorporating insights from peer educators, knowledge assessment sessions, and collaboration with healthcare professionals.

Activities included a televised appearance by Dr. Sichone, renowned in public health, community outreach events in high-prevalence areas, the distribution of informational materials, and a targeted social media campaign. Despite limited planning time, the campaign reached over a million people through various channels, effectively achieving its objectives of widespread awareness, behaviour change, and fostering collaborative partnerships with organizations like the Drug Enforcement Commission. Testimonials from participants underscored the success of dispelling misconceptions and inspiring positive behaviour change, laying the foundation for sustained impact.


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