The Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA) has called on government to reject any support from the tobacco industry to assist the country combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

At a press briefing Tuesday, the Director of the Institute, Benjamin Anabila noted that accepting support of any form from tobacco affiliated companies will compromise government’s ability to fully implement the law regulating the consumption of their products.

“INSLA and its partners are concerned about the possible tobacco industry attempts to exploits the Covid-19 pandemic to boost the tobacco business at the detriment of public health on the continent.

“We also see it as a deliberate attempt by the tobacco industry to meander and find a way into the system to make themselves relevant,” he said.

Noting the implications of smoking, Mr Anabila said it is a major factor of non-communicable disease including cancer, cardiovascular and diabetes.

Thus, it is important for government not to fall victim to the ‘ploy’ of tobacco industries and sway it from seeing the negative impact of tobacco products on the citizenry.

Citing countries like Uganda and Zambia, where tobacco industries have donated certain items to help them fight the virus, he said “the tobacco industry engages in this activity to portray itself as a responsible entity which cares for the wellbeing of Covid-19 patients.

“When in effects, its products only help to aggravate their [Covid-19 patients] situation and put many lives at risk.”

Mr Anabila then stressed that government reject any form of assistance from these tobacco companies to project the health of citizens when the war against COvid-19 is over.

“Invest in the implementation of tobacco control measures of the Public Health Act 851 of 2012 and prioritise tobacco control in the national health agenda and in the fight against Covid-19 risk factors.

The Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA) is a Civil Society Organisation who is a member of the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) that has dedicated itself to prevent an epidemic of tobacco use on the continent and its detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of Africans.