Coalition to protest against FDB for refusing to implement pictorial health warnings on tobacco packs

The Coalition of Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Ghana on Tuesday hinted of a demonstration against the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) for its refusal to implement pictorial health warnings on tobacco packs to alert users on the implications associated with smoking.

“If a timeline for the implementation of the pictorial health warnings in Ghana is not announced by the end of the year, civil society would embark on a protest walk to the headquarters of the Food and Drugs Board, Office of the Minister of Health and Office of the Speaker of Parliament in January 2012.”

Mr Issah Ali, Executive Director of Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a Tobacco Control NGO said in Accra that though support of the FDB was crucial to make pictorial images and information on tobacco packets, the FDB had refused to attend the series of meetings that it had organised.

He therefore, appealed to government to comprehensively implement Article 11 of the Frame Convention Tobacco Control (FCTC) to meet best international practices and strive to add evidence-based measures such as printing of colour pictorial health warnings on tobacco.

Mr Ali noted that the use of pictorial health warnings on tobacco pack was a cost effective way of informing, educating and communicating the dangers of tobacco use to the entire population.

“This will afford majority of the population to understand the dangers of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke which would help reduce disparities in health knowledge,” he said.

Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, Member of Parliament for Manhyia, said there was the need to dot the “Is” and cross the “Ts” and include in it all the necessary provisions to strengthen the bill and ensure that when the bill was passed into law there would be no glitches.

Mr Francis Mawini Zakari, Director, Environmental Science, Research and Innovation of EPA, noted that though Ghana was ranked 15th in countries that signed to the FCTC, the non implementation of pictorial warning on the cigarette packets was worrying.

He urged the FDB to double its effort in the implementation, adding that resources should not be an obstacle since the tobacco companies were expected to bear the cost of the advertisements.

Mrs Edith Annan, WHO Focal Person on Tobacco, said the spread of tobacco pandemic should be addressed with or without the law and called for the ban of smoking in public places and the implementation of pictorial warning.

Alhaji Abubakar Sufyan, Principal Health Promoter of Ghana Health Service said pictorial health warning were crucial because pictures were worth more than thousand of words adding that it had worked in countries such as Brazil, Singapore and Thailand.

However, Mr Nortey Dua, a Clinical Psychologist warned that though picture spoke volumes, care should be taken to design them because some people interpret them differently and should be pretested before use.

Efforts by the GNA to get officials of FDB to comment on the issue proved futile.

Source: GNA

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