Eleven per cent of Kenyans smoke cigarettes as the number of teenage smokers continues to rise at an alarming rate despite the introduction of stricter tobacco use.
Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko said 10 per cent of teenagers aged between 13 and 15 consume tobacco products.
“We’re facing a catastrophe because we are experiencing a high burden of HIV infections from this age group that is also using tobacco at a young age,” he said.
Mr Kioko, who was speaking during the World No Tobacco Day on Thursday, said teenage girls in Class Seven and Form Two are turning to smoking.
Official data shows that 12 per cent of the teenage smokers are boys while 6.7 per cent are girls.
Shisha smoking was the leading cause of tobacco consumption among the youth and women in the country. But the data on Shisha was collected before the ban on the commodity. Fewer people are smoking worldwide, especially women, but only one country in eight is on track to meet a target of reducing tobacco use significantly by 2025, the World Health Organisation said Sunday.
Three million people die prematurely due to tobacco use that causes cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke, the world’s leading killers, the WHO said.