Research conducted through the University of Botswana has revealed that 9 out of 10 teenagers in Botswana do not smoke. The results have given birth to the much-talked about #MostTeens campaign which has swept across Gaborone, celebrating the positive social choices of Botswana’s teenagers. Scores of teenagers have begun showing their support, largely through social media platforms, proudly proclaiming the fact they are part of the ”Most teens don’t smoke” movement.
The research, conducted in February 2014, aimed to determine the current rate of smoking among students. In addition, the study sought to explore teenagers’ knowledge, attitudes and perceptions about smoking, in order to inform the development of prevention interventions targeting youth. The study assessed students aged 12 to 18 years in the cities of Gaborone and Francistown, with a total of 22 Primary, 26 Junior Secondary and 27 Senior Secondary Schools from both public and private spheres randomly selected for evaluation.
The primary findings of the research reveal that although only 10.8% of respondents are current smokers, the majority of adolescents (61%) believe that most people their age smoke. In addition, 64% believe that people their age feel pressure to try smoking cigarettes, thus bringing to light a flawed perception around the prevalence, or lack there-of, of smoking amongst Botswana’s youth. The project was led by Dr. Bontle Mbongwe of the University of Botswana’s School of Public Health, with co-investigators: Professor N. Phaladze (School of Nursing), Roy Tapera (School of Public Health), and Andrew Lord (Good Business, London).
Said Dr. Mbongwe,”The data provides positive insights on what was previously thought regarding youths smoking status in Botswana. For example, about 15% of the students had tried smoking just once and this gives hope that with more positive campaigns, teenagers may be encouraged not to initiate smoking”.
The #MostTeens campaign has seen support from a number of local and regional influencers, including Lerato Motshwarakgole, actress and social activist; Tshepang ‘Izzy’ Motsisi, multi-award winning radio and club DJ; Simba Mudereri, popular radio jock; and Thabo ‘Drew Chadhall’ Letsebe, music brand consultant, EDM presenter and publicist. In addition, popular influencer and co-founder of the Goddess Foundation, Lebogang Maruapula; and rapper and record label executive, Kast, have also backed the social initiative.