CAPE TOWN– The 17th World Conference on Tobacco ended in Cape Town on Friday with calls to countries to intensify the fight for a tobacco-free generation.

Speakers say the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco is incompatible with the human right to health. At the centre of discussions were accusations that tobacco companies are targeting vulnerable countries in the developing world, intensifying their campaigns to hook more people on tobacco by selling it as cool.

While more than seven million people die of tobacco-related illnesses each year globally, delegates heard that tobacco damage far surpasses the revenue that tobacco companies bring to government purses.

African governments have been urged to intensify their fight tobacco use. Delegates have declared that tobacco control should be treated as a human rights issue. It has also been declared that e-cigarettes be regulated.

Health practitioners say about 300 million people are believed to use smokeless cigarettes throughout the world, the majority of them in Asia.

The Director of the the Smokeless Tobacco Programme of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Ravi Mehrotra, said there is a need for education on the deadly effects of there products. It is nearly as deadly as smoking and there are 336 million people who use smokeless tobacco all over the world,” he added.

“The problem is that it causes a lot of oral diseases, causes cancer of the oral cavity, of the pancreas and various other parts of the body; and it is also associated with cardiac or heart problems.

“And also, think of all the money that is spent on smokeless tobacco that cause people to go to poverty and that money should be used on education or on health instead of pockets of companies that make tobacco.

Youth are also being pushed forward to have a voice in the fight against tobacco use, as they are the main targets.