tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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Where smokers are a menace

RESPIRATORY infections emanating from tobacco smoking that spans a decade or so is a health hazard in Dodoma Region. A wide range of tobacco preparations including snuff (ugoro) and varieties of crude homemade cigarettes are popular here and other parts of the country. Health complications wrought by tobacco smoking vary from life-threatening pneumonia in children to outright impotence in men. More dangerous narcotic drugs are also prevalent, reports Staff Writer SOSTHENES MWITA.

MAZENGO Madanga, a 55-year-old peasant from Chilonwa Village in Dodoma Rural District, who came into the municipality to beg recently, says he took up tobacco smoking nearly 20 years ago. He admits with resentment that tobacco is so addictive that abusers fail to kick the habit.

He says a friend with who he tended cattle introduced him to tobacco smoking. Initially, he says, he found it difficult to inhale the smoke that appeared to assail not only his chest and lungs but his nostrils too. What he was smoking was crushed, sun-dried tobacco leaves rolled in paper.

Twenty years down the road, today, Madanga can no longer kick the habit. In fact, apart from smoking raw tobacco, he sniffs snuff as well. He tucks some of it inside his lower lip, a practice that increased the foul smell that invariably emanates from his mouth.

A medical doctor with the municipality’s Regional Hospital, who prefers anonymity, says that health complications, especially respiratory impairments, take many lives in Dodoma Region. He says not many women smoke here but his hospital has had to deal with a several critical cases.

He says smokers sometimes pass problems to non-smokers around them through what is known as passive smoking and that parents who smoke near infants unwittingly put the child’s health at risk. He also says a spouse who smokes endangers his or her non-smoking partner.

It is common to see smokers puffing in crowded places in Dodoma Region. Smokers often puff in buses, hospitals, libraries, restaurants, bars, and banks and even in government offices, sometimes in front of signs that prohibit the habit.

But smoking in public or crowded places is restricted by law and is punishable. Unfortunately, no law bans the manufacture of cigarettes in this country. The population of cigarette smokers in this country, and indeed, anywhere else around the world, is so big that cigarettes are money-spinners.

The government earns billions from the cigarette industry and imports. But the government has a good rule of thumb that requires warning signs posted on each cigarette advertisement saying it has been determined that “cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health.”

The same advert is displayed on cigarrete packs and is designed to warn smokers and potential smokers against the habit. But the advert does not seem to have much impact on the fraternity of smokers. One reason is that smoking takes its tall after twenty or more years.

So, the law makes it imperative for tobacco companies to warn consumers of their products on underlying dangers of smoking. A former Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Health, Mr Hussein Mwinyi, told the National Assembly last June, 2006 that smoking in public places is a crime.

He said the law that deters smoking in public is designed to protect minors and adults who do not smoke against the health complications that are wrought by smoking. The law also seeks to achieve the highest safety standards in cigarettes. Children are most affected by passive smoking.

Children are more likely to get pneumonia and other breathing problems if they live in an environment that is filled with smoke. They are particularly at greater risk when exposed to smoke from tobacco or even cooking fires. Their problem is compounded when born to smoking parents.

Parents who smoke expose their children to a hostile environment. Paediatricians say that a child who is breathing rapidly or with difficulty might have pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. Pneumonia is a life-threatening disease. If it is determined that your child has pneumonia, rush him to hospital immediately.

Mr Mwinyi told the National Assembly that smoking is restricted in hospitals, dispensaries and other health centres; public libraries; churches, mosques and other places of worship, in planes, trains, buses, ships and other facilities for travel; assembly halls, markets, shops and other places.

He said anyone infringing the law would be liable to a fine not exceeding 500,000/- or a jail term not exceeding three years or both fine and jail term. He said whoever will be affected by cigarette smoke at a public place has the right to institute litigation in a court of law.

Like other parts of Tanzania, Dodoma also has a huge narcotic drug trafficking and abuse problem, no wonder Mirembe Hospital, which deals mainly with drug addicts, is located in the municipality of Dodoma.

The world of narcotic drugs is a world of hallucination, loss of memory and violence according to medical parlance. It is a world of lunatics, mad gangsters, scarlet prostitutes and devil-may-care outlaws.

Drug abuse is a sticky worldwide problem. In Tanzania the problem is considered to be in its nascent stage but it is growing. Already, it has posed a stiff challenge for law enforcement agents and society.

The widespread abuse of drugs has become a human tragedy. Drugs entice, captivate and ultimately destroy addicts from all walks of life. The devastating effects of drug abuse on a family pose the greatest threat to society.

The habit causes disruption and disharmony within the family and everyone suffers.
The worst aspect of the drug trade is that it makes its deepest impression on those who are most vulnerable — the youth, according to psychiatrists.

The use of drugs has strong appeal to naive youths who are just beginning their struggle for independence from family bonds. Because of their innate curiosity and thirst for new experiences, the young, especially those living in towns and cities, are particularly susceptible to the “drug experience.”

Developing countries such as Tanzania have already learned, much to their sorrow, that drug abuse is no longer confined to the youths of the West. One youth, Marunde Wande, said with pride recently that narcotic drugs cushion him against the pangs of hunger, mental anguish and other worldly hardships.

This is a strange scenario and a future problem for the medical world. Drug abusers have weird reasons to justify their diabolical habit. Almost always, the younger the age at which an individual first tries drugs, the more apt he or she is to try them again.

The first taste, and its effect on the user, greatly influences whether he or she continues taking drugs. In fact, most of the drug peddlers in the streets and squatter areas in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Dodoma are children, some of who are homeless. The children know where their customers are located.

The involvement of naive-looking children throws investigating police astray. On the global front, the narco industry is a multi-billion dollar venture that can survive and thrive even as more and larger shipments of illicit drugs are seized each year by law enforcement agencies.

The West spends billions each year in its anti-narcos struggle. Trafficking in illicit drugs is increasingly being organized by persons or syndicates that instigate, finance and direct operations without ever handling the drugs themselves.

Syndicates of professional criminals continue to be of serious concern to law enforcers. No country is untouched by the drug abuse scourge. Some countries, including Tanzania, are largely used as transit points.

But even here a market is sprouting. Other countries are production bases. It is the affluent West that is seen as the most lucrative market.

Along the business route the illegal trade corrupts people, employs various means of transportation and crosses national borders as the product is stealthily moved to the abuser. The return path carries millions of dollars mostly in laundered money.

What worries law enforcement agencies all over the world is that more often than not, only the minor players in the vast drug trafficking machinery have been apprehended. The main conspirators have largely escaped prosecution.

Even putting a “master criminal” in jail has done little to interrupt the flow of drugs. The enticement of tremendous profits constitutes a strong attraction to criminals. Tanzania has often caught traffickers with the contraband hidden in private parts or simply swallowed.

In this country and elsewhere, large amounts of illicit drugs have been found cunningly hidden in heavy logs, motor vehicles tyres, canned beef tins, fresh fish, shipping containers, heavily sealed ship hulls and even innocent-looking handbags.

However, all this was child play. It is the cocaine that was found hidden in a corpse in Europe a decade ago that shocked the world. In Tanzania, where drug addiction is not yet a pronounced problem, efforts to curtail it must be intensified for the narco world is a mad, mad world.

October 27, 2009 Dailynews

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