Parents whose children are pupils at Mpopoma High School in Bulawayo are collecting signatures in an effort to petition authorities to remove a billboard that was erected just outside the learning institution advertising cigarettes.
The billboard, erected at beginning of this month, promotes the Pacific Cigarette brand.
A blogger, Mr Michael Mbele who initiated the plan to petition Government and council to remove the billboard said he is concerned that the billboard could influence children to smoke.
“I am seriously concerned about Mpopoma High students because that Pacific billboard will have devastating effects on them”, said Mr Mbele
Mr Allan Moyo who has a son who learns at Mpopoma High School said the billboard sends a wrong message as some pupils are already suffering from drug abuse.
He said it will be difficult for pupils to be advised against substance abuse when they are exposed to such a billboard.
“How are our children expected to learn when the first thing that they see before entering the school premises is a cigarette advert?” asked Mr Moyo.
He said he hopes that something positive will come out of their petition.
“If the petition that parents are trying to put together does not work matters of substance abuse will worsen,” he added.
The petition will ask the Government and the city council to have the billboard removed.
Ms Sistance Moyo, a Mpopoma resident said she does not understand why such an advert was put in front of a school.
“l do not understand why there is such an ad in front of a school gate when there are lot of pubs and beer gardens around Mpopoma.
They should be advertising scholarships here and not what they are doing,” she said.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Mr Taungana Ndoro said there is nothing wrong with the advert as long as it carries a message that says ‘smoking is harmful to your health’ as it teaches children that they must not smoke.
Efforts to get a comment from Pacific Cigarette Company were unsuccessful.–Chronicle