How Owana beat 27-year cigarette addiction

By Edgar R. Batte

In 1977 at the age of 14, Tonny Owana lit a cigarette. Although he coughed uncontrollably due to the hostile tobacco inhalation, he was cheered on by peers.

It felt like an initiation of sorts into high school and adulthood, especially since he was into the self-discovery phase of adolescence.

“It felt ‘cool’ to smoke because it was illegal at school. We also watched film stars of the time such as James Bond smoke and these were characters we looked up to,” Owana, a veteran journalist and senior manager at Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), recounts.

With friends, they would sneak out of St Mary’s College Kisubi to buy cigarettes and alcohol, which they would take during lunch breaks and at night.

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