Most mental cases said to be “wee” related
Mr Frank Kwesi Arhin of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital has noted that the daily mental cases reported at the facility are Indian hemp “wee” smoking related.
He said research shows that male users of the substance lost 13 years out of their lifespan while females lost 14 years.
Mr Arhin made the disclosure at a community forum at Korle Gonno organised by Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a non-governmental organisation on Saturday to educate pupils from St Michael, Nanka Bruce, Hijaz and the Methodist basic schools in the area on the harmful effects of tobacco use.
The forum, which also created awareness on the need for Ghana ban to cigarette smoking in public, was supported by the Norwegian Cancer Society.
Mr Arhin said the nicotine in tobacco create addiction in users and gradually move them to smoke Indian hemp and later cocaine.
He stated: “The assertion that smoking of marijuana enhances learning, improves appetite, remove shyness, boredom and shame are all lies.”
Mr Arhin said it rather weakens the brain and the body and makes the user to behave abnormally.
Mr Abdul Razak Ali of VALD said tobacco use has been linked to dreadful diseases such as heart diseases, lung, oral and throat cancers, respiration diseases, infertility, poverty and death.
He said VALD has plans to join hands with members of parliament, assembly members, chiefs, opinion and religious leaders to assist in educating the citizenry on the dangers of tobacco use and the law banning smoking in public.
Ms Veronica Fiaku, a member of Community Health Support Team of VALD who took the school children through the harmful effects of tobacco smoking advised them not to mingle with smokers because it is more dangerous for one to be a passive smoker.
Mr Labram Musah, Programme Director of VALD said Tobacco Control Measures in the Public Health Act 2012, (Act 851) is in operation and that anybody found smoking in public is an offender and such a person is liable for arrest.
He said the police are studying the law for its full implementation whilst the members of the VALD had also taken upon themselves to educate the people about its provisions because “ignorant of the law is no excuse”.
Mr Musah said the law prohibits children under age 18 to handle cigarette products and when found they could be arrested.
He advised the pupils to politely say no when they are asked to buy cigarette as “it is against the law to handle it”.
Mr Musah urged smokers to abide by the provisions of the law to avoid being arrested, saying; “it would be very sad that a smoker who spent 20Gp on a stick of cigarette is fined GH¢7,000 when caught or in default go to prison for not more than three years.”
Mr Dickson Owusu, an opinion leader and aspiring assemblyman for the area told the pupils that they would become good leaders to help bring good education, healthcare and other developments to Korle Gonno and the country as whole if they avoid smoking tobacco and the use of narcotic substances.
Mr Ben Kofi, Youth Leader of Korle Gonno said; “a word to the wise is enough” and quoted Proverbs 3:1-2 “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.”
He asked the pupils to let their parents be proud of them wherever they may be.
Mr Seyyid S. Nettey of the Ghana Muslim Mission, who chaired the function, said the programme was a blessing to the children because they have got the opportunity to be educated on the harmful effects of smoking tobacco which would guard them in their lives.
He said some people are blaming themselves now because they could not had that chance when they were young to be talked to on how they should carry their lifestyles which have affected them in one way or the other.
Mr Nettey thanked VALD for the good work they are doing in catching the young ones to make them aware of dangers in certain lifestyles, especially smoking of tobacco.