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Last Updated: Friday, 28 May, 2004, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Should smoking be banned?
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi smoking a cigarette
Gaddafi appears unlikely to support a ban
This year's World No Tobacco Day is on 31 May, a day set aside to highlight the dangers of smoking.

The focus this year, according to the World Health Organisation, is on tobacco and poverty.

According to the WHO, smoking cigarettes does not only lead to disease and death, but drains the already impoverished public health service of countries in Africa as the cost of treating tobacco-related disease soars.

With tobacco advertising banned in many western countries, cigarette manufacturers are increasingly targeting countries in Africa and elsewhere in the third world.

Last year, Tanzania banned smoking in public places.

Smoking also damages productivity and families as parents die young because of tobacco related illnesses.

The report says that poor people spend a disproportionately high amount of their income on cigarettes.

For example, in Kenya it an average of two hours and 40 minutes to earn enough to buy a packet for imported cigarettes, while in the United Kingdom it takes just 40 minutes.

On the other hand, African countries such as Zimbabwe and Malawi earn a lot of money from tobacco exports.

If smoking were banned, thousands of people would lose their main source of income and might be unable to find another equally profitable crop.

In view of the WHO statistics should smokers be forced to give up the habit for the sake of their own health and for that of the whole country?

Or should smoking remain a question of personal choice?

Use the form to send you comments. A selection will be broadcast at 1705GMT on 29 May on the BBC World Service Focus on Africa programme.

Smoking poses a serious threat to the growth of our society. This has a direct link to cancer, which kills many people around the World, and it is difficult to be cure. So lets do everything possible to save our society.
Jennifer Henshaw, Sinkor,Monrovia, Liberia

Smoking is a personal choice. If smoking should be banned, then alcohol, chocolate, cheese and butter should also be banned. Will the West allow banning of alcohol?
TAJUDEEN BAKRE, Lagos, Nigeria.

Smoking has effectively 'paralysed' my father. He is now on a wheelchair, after more than 50 years of smoking. There is no reason why tobacco should not be categorised among the A-class hard drugs and proscribe its production, sale and consumption accordingly
Salihu Bakari, Yola, Nigeria

To be consistent, tobacco should be banned just like other harmful drugs. It is not logical to be concerned about the fate of the tobacco farmers if we are not concerned about the growers of opium poppy.
N.J., Cambridge, England

Tobacco smokers should be considered criminals considering that their acts sometimes causes death to others
banda ngenge, tunis

I am not a smoker and never have been but think that smoking and smokers are being used as a scapegoat for alot of other social ills. Yes it is bad for you and those around you but so are cars which cause not only air pollution but noise polution and actually kill those who are not driving directly and immediately when mishandled. Yet no one is suing drivers or car manufactors, or calling for a ban despite widespread anti-social behaviour on the part of drivers. Similarly mobile phones pollute the environment through the constant noise and inane chatter we all now have to tolerate, and whatever happened to research into links between mobile phones, phone masts and cancer. I think it is good practice to have smoking and non-smoking sections in pubs, restaurants, etc., but not to ban it in public places all together.
Henri, Hackney, London

Tobacco should be banned because of the health hazards it poses. Note that passive smokers are equally affected like the active ones. We want a free smoke world.
Abubacar Sepa Supe Seidu Shaban, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea

I was suprise to see Gaddafi smoking in a highly regarded meeting,or he does not respect the importance of the meeting.I hate smoking,whenever i smell it i feel so bad.Smoking should be banned totally in the face of this earth
Michael Konteh, Schermbeck,Germany

in matters of life and death, the best best choice to make is that which is in the best interests of the affected and the afflicted.in this case,lets ban smoking and promote other ways of improving the economies of the countries that are likely to suffer from such a bold act.
malinda harrahs, kenyan in germany

People should be banned from smoking in any place, where others might be forced to endure the fumes, but I view it as a person's divine right to wreck his own body:- just so long as the taxpayer doesn't have to foot the bill for the health consequences.
Graeme Phillips, Berlin, Germany (normally UK)

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Tanzania bans public smoking
02 Jul 03 |  Africa

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