t A smaller proportion of Kenyans use tobacco products but progress in last six years has been slow, reveals a Nation Newsplex review of tobacco consumption data. This is despite the high taxes and laws that prohibit the sale of loose cigarettes and public advertising of the products.
Number of Kenyans older than 15 years who use tobacco products, including manufactured cigars and cigarettes, hand-rolled cigarettes, pipes, shisha tobacco, chewed tobacco and kuber – decreased marginally from nine percent in 2012 to eight percent in 2017, shows a National Authority 2018 for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) study. This means that around 2.2 million Kenyans use tobacco products, of which two thirds smoke cigarettes.
Only 7% of smokers who try to quit smoking in Kenya get it.
At the same time, there is an increase in the consumption of cigarettes and cigars. According to Statistical Abstract 2017 the use of cigarettes and cigars jumped by more than two-thirds from Sh6.7 billion in 2012 to Sh11.3 billion in 2016.
Cigarette smoking is the number one factor in risk for lung cancer. In Kenya, it is linked to more than 70 percent of lung cancers, according to the National Guidelines for Cancer Management. It also causes cancer in almost all parts of the body and cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
When age is taken into account, one in eight adults aged between 36 and 65 years consumes tobacco products, a prevalence almost twice that of people between 15 and 35.
Progress in kicking the habit It is uneven. Tobacco consumption increased two percentage points among people over 35 years of age, from 11 percent in 2012 to 13 percent in 2017, according to Nacada. But in a positive development, tobacco consumption decreased by three percentage points among those between 25 and 35 years old, from 10 percent in 2012 to seven percent in 2017. A similar decrease was observed among young people aged 15-24. years. Most smokers start young and have difficulty quitting. The decline in tobacco use among young people provides a glimmer of hope that the campaign against tobacco can succeed.
Data from a study by the African Center for Population and Health Research (APHRC) show that the average number of smokers who start smoking is 21.  Mr. Francis Kioko has been a smoker since he was 15 years old. "We grow tobacco in Kitui County, so my first meeting was rolling the dried leaves on a piece of paper and smoking, and when I got to the city, I" graduated "from cigarettes. You spend Sh32 every day on your favorite brand of cigarettes, which is worth for Sh8 a stick. This translates to Sh960 per month. "I smoke four cigarettes a day, one during lunch time and three at night when I get home, my family lives in Kitui so they are not exposed to smoke."
Like him, one third of cigarette smokers daily consume less than five cigarettes per day, while five percent smoke more than 25 cigarettes per day. The average smoker of manufactured cigarettes smokes seven cigarettes a day while the hand-rolled cigarette smoker lights up twice, says the APHRC study.
About a third (35 percent) of smokers have tried to quit smoking and most failed, illustrating difficulty in breaking the addiction. Mr Kioko is no exception. "Every time I try to stop smoking, I fail." Just seeing a person smoking, or the smell of burning tobacco is enough to make me buy one. Also, my friends smoke. This is how we spend our social time, "he says.
Only 7% of smokers who try to quit smoking in Kenya get it, with the highest success rate among those between 15 and 24 years old, with a 17 %, followed by those of 45-64 (12 percent) and 25-44 years (three percent), according to the Global Survey of Smoking in Adults 2014.
People who stop Smoking has a lower risk of lung cancer than if they had continued smoking, but their risk outweighs the risk for people who have never smoked.Stop smoking at any age can reduce the risk of lung cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Aware of the many harmful effects of cigarettes, Kioko blames annoying chest problems when smoking. "Occasionally, I experience chest problems, especially if I change the brand. I smoke, "he says.
Consumption of ta Baco varies widely by region. According to the Nacada survey, coastal and eastern regions lead with one in nine people between 15 and 65 years of age who consume tobacco and smokeless tobacco products, followed by Nairobi with 10 percent. The prevalence of tobacco consumption in the three regions is twice the five percent of Nyanza, the lowest. Despite having the second lowest proportion of tobacco users, at six percent, Western experienced the greatest increase in prevalence, doubling from three percent in 2012 to six percent in 2017.
Western prevalence is followed from behind by Central (seven percent) Rift Valley (eight percent) and North Eastern (nine percent). Other regions that registered an increase in prevalence are Nyanza (one third), Coast (13%) and Eastern (nine%).
North Eastern recorded a 45% drop in the proportion of people who consume tobacco drawn by Nairobi (28%), Central (27%) and Rift Valley (11%).
As expected, the Nacada survey concludes that there are more men than women who use tobacco. One in six men use tobacco, a proportion similar to 2012. On the contrary, one percent of women do the same, a decrease to half of two percent in 2012.
Tobacco use is found among the top five behavioral causes of cancer, and is responsible for about one third of cancer deaths worldwide, according to the WHO.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics of Kenya show that one in every 11 deaths in Kenya was caused by cancer in 2017, making it the third deadliest disease after malaria and pneumonia. Habit is also the second leading cause of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, according to the WHO. The UN agency also reports that tobacco use kills 31,000 people annually in Kenya.
According to the CDC, tobacco smoke is a toxic mixture of approximately 7,000 chemicals, of which 70 cause cancer in people and animals.
Cigarette smokers are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer than those who do not. Even smoking a few cigarettes a day or smoking occasionally increases the risk of lung cancer. Cigarette smoking also causes cancer of the mouth and throat, liver, pancreas, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, voice box (larynx), trachea, bronchi, urinary bladder, cervix, renal and renal pelvis, as well as acute myeloid leukemia .  Secondhand smoke also causes lung cancer in adults who do not smoke. The 2015 APHRC study concludes that a quarter of Kenyans are exposed to secondhand smoke at home.
Smokeless tobacco is also not safe, as it is likely to cause cancer of the esophagus and pancreas. In Kenya, four percent of tobacco users use smokeless tobacco (chewing and smelling).
Secondhand smoke also causes lung cancer in adults who do not smoke. The 2015 APHRC study reveals that a quarter of Kenyans are exposed to secondhand smoke in the home.
WHO estimates that one out of every seven people killed is a pbadive smoker.
While the Tobacco Control Law prohibits smoking in public places, random survey conducted by Newsplex observed several people smoking on the street instead of designated areas.
Although workplaces were designated as smoke-free environments, the APHRC Survey, which was conducted in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, shows that one in five adults is exposed to second-hand smoke at their places of work.