GABORONE, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Botswana citizens use tobacco the most when compared with other highly populated African countries such as Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya, a senior official said on Thursday.
At an event marking the World No Tobacco Day in Francistown, Botswana's second largest city, Permanent Secretary of Botswana's Ministry of Health and Wellness Ruth Maphorisa said tobacco use in Botswana is severe.
Maphorisa said "17.6 percent people in Botswana currently use tobacco."
According to the official, this is the highest rate among all African countries involved in the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) last year, including Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.
Last year, Botswana undertook GATS, a study aimed at determining the impact of tobacco in the southern African nation.
According to Maphorisa, the survey established that 82.2 percent of the 17.6 percent tobacco users buy single sticks of cigarettes, indicating the affordability of cigarettes, which makes them easily accessible.
"Affordability and easy accessibility of cigarettes promote the buying of tobacco sticks on credit," she said.
She further explained that the average monthly expenditure on tobacco per person is an estimated at 79.5 U.S. dollars, an amount that is more than the country's minimum wage pegged at 40 U.S. dollars.
"The majority of those spending on tobacco are people in rural areas with no basic education who spend more than they earn on tobacco," she said.
Due to the high use of tobacco in the country, Maphorisa said 7.5 percent of She further explained that the average monthly expenditure on tobacco per person is an estimated at 79.5 U.S. dollars, an amount that is more than the country's minimum wage pegged at 40 U.S. dollars.
She said second-hand smoke is real within the communities of Botswana, saying it is more dangerous than active smoking.
According to a message released on Thursday by World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco kills over 7 million people each year despite a steady reduction in tobacco use globally.
WHO's new Global Report in Prevalence of Tobacco Smoking 2000-2025 shows that worldwide, 27 percent people smoked tobacco in 2000 compared with 20 percent in 2016.