The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) in Volta Region, is to begin enforcement of regulations under the Tobacco Control Measures of the Public Health 2012, Act 851, which principally bans smoking in public places.
The Authority said from Thursday June 27, this year, it expects managers of public places to conspicuously place ‘no-smoking’ insignia at markets, supermarkets, restaurants, vehicles terminals, hotels, schools, alleys, streets, sports stadia and other public places.
Mr Roderick Daddey-Adjei, Volta Regional Officer of FDA, announced this at a workshop to sensitize stakeholders on the Act, in Ho on Wednesday.
He expressed disappointment at the low turnout of participants, stating that though 45 out of 150 invited were present that would not deter the FDA from enforcing the law.
Mr Geoffrey Arthur, a pharmacist with the FDA, said tobacco smoking had a debilitating effect on all who engaged in it and even passive smokers.
He said under the law, people could smoke only in designated places and that smoking was banned also at public toilets.
Mr Arthur said service providers could withhold services from clients who breach the law and call on the police to arrest them.
He said ‘’people who trade in cigarettes are enjoined under the law to place health alerts at the point of sales whiles all brands of cigarettes should also have such alerts visibly stamped on the packages’’.
Mr Arthur observed that though the law required managers of public places to provide designated places for smoking, it would be difficult to put this into practice.
Dr Winfred Ofosu, a Deputy Director of the Ghana Health Service in Volta Region in charge of Public Health, observed that the ban on smoking in public places was the “best thing that had happened to public health in many years”.
He said no organ in the body was safe from the effects of smoking and that smoking was the “most preventable cause of death globally”.
Dr Ofosu said 6 million smokers die from smoking related conditions every year and another 600,000 passive smokers also die every year.
He said the tendency in Ghana now for people to hide before smoking gave hope that tobacco use was on the downtrend.
Legislations by nations across the world, to discourage tobacco use, is a consequence of a UN-led campaign, over the years, in the face of mounting evidence of its harmful health effects.