NGO calls for help to make Ghana tobacco-smoking free

smokingMr Labram Musah, Programme Director of Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), has asked Ghanaians to help make Ghana a tobacco-smoking free country to save people from tobacco-related deaths.

“We have nothing to benefit from tobacco smoking, but rather destruction,” he stated.

Mr Musah made the remark at a community forum to create the awareness among the people on the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851) Section Six – Tobacco Control Measures in Ghana on Saturday at Nima West, Ayawaso East Constituency in Accra.

The Act was unanimously passed into law by Parliament on July 11, 2012 and assented to by the President on October 9, 2012 and thus provides legal backing to the ban of tobacco use in public places, advertising and sale, among others.

The programme was sponsored by the Norwegian Cancer Society and it was attended by community members and students from the area.

Mr Musah noted that it was unfortunate that it was the Ghanaian poor who indulged in tobacco smoking to the detriment of better upkeep of their families and the education of their children.

Mr Musah said: “Now we have a law in place and therefore we have the right to breathe free from tobacco smoke. You can report any smoker to the law enforcement agencies because where one’s freedom ends another person’s freedom begins.”

He reiterated the call on the Foods and Drug Authority to ensure that cigarette packs depicted pictorial warnings that could ward off would-be smokers of the dangers of tobacco smoking, saying that the law on tobacco smoking was a unique one and must be implemented to the letter.

The Programme Director cautioned parents that it was an offence under the law to send a child below the age of 18 years to buy cigarette and urged the younger generations not to get themselves into tobacco smoking.

Mr Musah took the gathering through some of the 13 key elements of the tobacco control measures – “A person shall not smoke tobacco or a tobacco product or hold a lighted tobacco product in an enclosed or indoor area of a workplace, or in any other public place.”

“A person shall not advertise either directly or indirectly a tobacco or a tobacco product. A person who manufactures, imports or sells a tobacco product in the country shall ensure that the product carries a health warning on the package,” and “A person shall not sell or offer for sale tobacco or a tobacco product to a child; send a child to sell or buy tobacco or a tobacco product; request a child to light tobacco or a tobacco product; expose a child to tobacco or a tobacco product.”

“A person who contravenes any provisions of the Tobacco Control Measures of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851) subject to section 56 of the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30) shall be prosecuted by court of competent jurisdictions.”

Welcoming participants at the forum, Ms Hajara Musah of VALD, mentioned some dreadful diseases tobacco use as lung cancer, oral cancer, throat cancer, respiration, infertility, poverty and death.

She said smokers spent about 10 to 15 per cent of their household income which could be channeled to their children’s education, food, shelter, clothing and other family needs on cigarette products whilst government spent a chunk of its revenue in treating those who had fallen prey to tobacco smoking.

Ms Musah assured that the VALD would continue to work together with assembly members, communities, chiefs and opinion leaders to educate the people on the dangers of tobacco use and the tobacco control law.

Source: GNA

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