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Help fight tobacco use – NGO

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smokingMiss Patience Ocloo of the Community Health Support Team (CHEST) at Alajo, a suburb of Accra has called on chiefs, religious and opinion leaders to assist in creating awareness on the effects of tobacco use.

She said tobacco smoking causes health problems such as heart and respiratory diseases, lung, oral and throat cancers as well as infertility and brings about poverty and death.

Miss Ocloo made the appeal at a community forum on Saturday at Alajo, organized by Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a non-governmental organization. VALD is into campaigning against tobacco use and sensitisation on the Tobacco Control Measures of the Public Health Act (Act 851).

The programme was supported by the Norwegian Cancer Society (NCS).

Miss Ocloo urged parents to be vigilant about the movement and activities of their children because their first attempt at smoking could make them addictive and would be difficult to put a stop to it.

Mr Labram Musah, Programme Director of VALD, who took the gathering through the 13 key areas of the Tobacco Control Measures, explained that the NGO had deemed it necessary to inform the public on the passage of the law because the Act came into effect on October 16, 2012 after Parliament had passed it on July 11, 2012, saying that, “ignorant of the law” is no excuse.

He emphasized that tobacco smoking in public places is banned, saying that, the serious aspect of the habit is that the non-smoker, who inhales the secondhand smoke is the most affected and therefore there was the need for Ghanaians to wage a vigorous campaign against it.

He said the people who smoke tobacco were mostly the poor and wondered if those engaged in the use of the product could afford to meet the penalty of a fine of GHC9,000 or three months imprisonment when they breach the law, which could also disturb their families.

Mr Musah urged Ghanaians to be alert of the subtle manner the tobacco companies are coming up with advertisements on tobacco products and called on the Food and Drugs Authority to ensure that such companies put pictorial warnings on their products of the harmful effect of smoking to deter smokers.

The Programme Director appealed to Ghanaians to support the government in the campaign against smoking because it leads to destruction and affects the revenue of the State.

Rev Nahum Pornorty of the Living God Chapel at Alajo, who was also the Chairman of the event, commended the VALD for the educative programme on the dangers of tobacco smoking and called on the gathering to be ambassadors in spreading the message.

He asked churches to use their pulpits to educate their members on the health and economic effects of tobacco use.

Source: GNA

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