Exporting cancer to Africa

With AIDS, malaria, and ebola to worry about, what’s a little emphysema? That’s the attitude of tobacco companies as they turn to Africa to console themselves for their loss of popularity in the First World.

Speakers at last week’s conference of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, held in Guinea, lamented the growth of yet another health risk on the continent, reports the PANAFRICAN NEWS AGENCY. One tobacco representative explained that because of other health crises in Burkina Faso (little things like an average life expectancy of 40 years and high infant mortality), “the health problems which some say are caused by cigarettes just won’t be a problem here,” presumably because most smokers there won’t live long enough to develop lung cancer.

Tobacco interests have been especially successful at recruiting new smokers. Fifty-three percent of 15-year-old male Algerians smoke, and the rate of increase in tobacco consuption in Africa, at 3.2 percent per year, is the highest in the world.