We used to pick it - now they want us to smoke it!


This month: A global viewpoint is necessary if we are to enforce restrictions on the tobacco industry.
January 17, 1997 / Volume 2 San Francisco African American Tobacco Free Project

Winners of the Essay Contest

We are excited to announce the winners of the essay contest that was held in November. The three winners were Dominique Currington from the Hunter's Point Girls and Boys Club, and Malorie Brewer and Jackey Smith from Alice Griffith Boys & Girls Club.

Each of these youths wrote an exceptional essay about the effects of the tobacco industry on their community. All three winners received movie tickets to see Michael Jordan's "Space Jam", T-shirts, and certificates of appreciation for their time and effort in writing these essays.

Ruben Smith of the Hunter's Point Boys & Girls Club and Ava Robinson of Alice Griffith Boys & Girls Club have supported this program and encourage the youths that come to their center to get involved. It's community centers like these that make the difference in their community and the youth that attend.

In the coming New Year we will have many exciting activities. In February we will be participating in the Sports Image Awards; Jerry Rice will be an honoree this year.

A Profile of Senegal

Africa has many different countries, much as the United States has many states. One country in Africa that isn't as widely known as Egypt, Kenya, or South Africa is Senegal.

Senegal is located in West Africa, and borders the North Atlantic Ocean. The total size of the area is slightly larger than South Dakota. Senegal is an independent republic with a democratic government. The administrative division consists of ten regions, with Dakar as the capital. The official languages of Senegal are French and Wolof.

The island of Goree, a short ferry ride from Dakar, was a holding point for slaves before they were shipped to the Americas. It is a required visit for anyone traveling to Senegal.

Carol McGruder, who is the Program Coordinator here at Polaris, traveled to Senegal for the Christmas Holiday. She returned in the new year and is looking forward to sharing her experiences in Senegal. Senegal has a budding tobacco control movement and we will learn about it in the next issue.

Tobacco Grows in Africa

Uganda, a nation in Africa, has been transformed from what was a beautifully rich landscape one hundred years ago to a land tragically affected by the tobacco industry. A large number of locals not only grow food, but are also in the business of growing tobacco. The British American Tobacco Company says that tobacco farmers are better of than their food-growing neighbors; the reality is very different.

Families who farm tobacco suffer financially, because it is a labor-intensive crop. Women and children are the hardest hit, since they are needed to work in the fields. Children are forced wither to miss school frequently or not attend at all, because maintaining a tobacco crop is very hard work. The women are expected to maintain the food-bearing crops for their survival, and they are solely responsible for caring for their children. In addition, they are expected to help their husbands in the tobacco fields.

The loss of forest coverage is devastating Uganda. There is a high rate of soil erosion, leaving the soil infertile and sun-baked. This causes the farmers to suffer, since there is a decrease in wood fuel. They must travel several miles to find firewood. Wood fuel is essential in the curing of tobacco.

SOURCE: Muwanga-Bayego, Henry; "Tobacco growing in Uganda: the environment and women pay the price"; Tobacco Control 1994; 3:255-256