Towards a zero tobacco public space in Cameroon

smoking norway

(Unsplash, 2018)

This article was exclusively written for the The European Sting by Mr. WUNDE Njineck UBRAINE, a second year medical student at the Faculty of Health Sciences
of the University of Bamenda, Cameroon 
. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


In Cameroon, the use of tobacco is as old as its history. Tobacco even became an integral part of some Cameroonian cultures and a source of income to some others, as it was a major cash crop back in the days. Tobacco is a south American herb (Nicotiana tabacum) with addictive characteristics whose leaves contain 2-8% of nicotine and serve as a source of both smoking and smokeless tobacco. In 2000, the United States government classified tobacco as a known human carcinogen.

Tobacco is consumed in many different ways, which have been classified under smoking and smokeless techniques of consumption. The smokeless techniques involve chewing and sniffing tobacco. These methods tend mostly to affect the consumer alone. The smoking technique is that which is most common and is our major concern in this article, as it does not affect the consumer only, but his immediate entourage too.

Cameroon became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on May 4, 2006 wherein she ratified and enacted the following clauses as concerns tobacco use in public spaces in the country.

  1. Smoke Free Places: Smoking is prohibited in schools, universities and Ministry buildings. Smoking is not regulated in any other indoor public place, indoor workplace or on any means of public transportation. But Cooperate bodies and individuals took it upon themselves to prohibit the use of tobacco in their service points, for their personal health benefit and for that of their entourage.
  2. Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship: There is a ban on tobacco advertising and promotion on television, radio and in the printed press as well as on outdoor advertising. Tobacco sponsorship is allowed with restriction.
  3. Tobacco Packaging and Labeling: The law requires text-only health warnings to appear on at least 50 percent of the main surfaces on tobacco product packages. Beginning January 3, 2019, the law will require pictorial health warnings on 70 percent of the front and back surfaces.
  4. Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation: Three circulars restrict smoking in certain public places and workplaces, ratified by the Ministry of the Economy and Finances, Ministry of Secondary Education, (creating nonsmoking areas and anti-smoking clubs in schools) and the Ministry of Higher Education and Public Academic Institutions.

Despite all these strives and efforts made, the situation on the ground is not exactly up to expectation. It is still common to find smokers in and around school campuses and despite the provision of special areas in markets for smoking, markets can still be found flooded with buyers and sellers smoking while carrying on with their various businesses, thereby exposing the average man to residual tobacco. Presently, the public spaces which can be declared tobacco free are churches, mosques, ministry buildings and some other private and cooperate service points (gas filling stations, some public transport vessels and cooking gas service points). With the efforts put in place already as at now, everyone needs to put hands on deck for more still needs to be done to assure a ZERO Tobacco public space in Cameroon.

About the author

The Author, WUNDE Njineck UBRAINE, is a gentleman born on the 22nd February 1999 at the Alpha Royal Clinic, Bamenda, in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. He went through his primary, secondary and high school in Yaounde, where he obtained his first school Leaving Certificate, his General Certificate of Education; Ordinary and Advanced Levels. He took a course at the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine of the University of Buea, then enrolled into medical school at the Faculty of Health Sciences
of the University of Bamenda and is presently in his second year. All along, he has spared no efforts at broadening his knowledge by attending seminars and workshops. He is an eloquent speaker and has occupied several leadership positions.

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