Ghana Parliament condemns illicit trade in tobacco products

SmokingMembers of Parliament have condemned the trade in tobacco products, and hammered on the dangers involved in tobacco use, with a plea for lifestyle changes and strict enforcement of tobacco regulations.

“Medical and health professionals see the patients, dispense care to the chronic ailments by persistent users, manage the complications and disabilities, write the medical bills, and agonise over the huge costs to families and societies,” Mr Collins Ntim, Deputy Ranking Member of the Committee on Health, and Member of Parliament for Offinso North said.

This was contained in a statement the Legislator read on the floor of the House to mark World No Tobacco Day, which falls on May 31 each year.

“The celebration of this day is necessary since it seeks to draw attention of all stakeholders to the dangers involved in tobacco use. This year, the day is celebrated under the theme “Stop illicit trade of tobacco products,” the MP said.

Mr Ntim drew the House’s attention to the devastating effects of tobacco consumption, quoting World Health Organization sources reported that “every 10 out of 100 cigarettes and other tobacco products consumed worldwide are illegal, making the illicit trade of tobacco products a major global concern from many perspectives, including health, legal, economic, governance and corruption.

“The tobacco industry and criminal groups are among those who profit from the illegal tobacco trade leaving the public to pay the health and security costs.

Mr Ntim spoke of the aggressive marketing style with appealing brand name, irrespective of the damage it causes, and condemned the brands “as just gimmicks designed to attract more health conscious customers to patronize the product, despite their damages to the health of customers.

Mr Ntim spoke of the worrying trends and statistics of tobacco consumption, which is leading to the rise of non-communicable disease, and further causing morbidity and mortality, with further negative effects on productivity and development among nation.

He pointed out that over 4,000 harmful chemicals were found in tobacco products that could cause damage to skin, and serious teratogenic effects among pregnant women,…and heavy smokers who had high dependence on nicotine,  were in danger of strokes.
The MP linked tobacco smoking to poverty, as a result of inability to bear the economic and disease burden.

Money spent on tobacco could be used to pay for food, education and health care. Also tobacco use is growing fastest on low-income countries that are least equipped to deal with the consequences.

Mr Ntim called for efforts to be stepped step up to stop illegal use of tobacco, else it could kill up to one billion people this century.

He gave credit to the Framework on Convention of Tobacco Control, for reducing smoking in some countries by 25 per cent within the three years that it has been implemented.

Mr Ntim suggested higher tariffs, and eventual high prices of tobacco products, to discourage young people from smoking.

They must be further encouraged to reduce the illicit use of tobacco or quit together.

The Offinso North MP urged all stakeholders in the fight against the illicit use of tobacco  to help create innovative strategies  and programmes that would promote awareness about the harmful effects of illicit tobacco consumption.

Mr Gesrhon Gbediame , MP for Nkwanta South, and Madam Rosemond Abrah, MP for Weija Gbawe, appealed to the Youth to desist from the illegal use of tobacco.

Mr Joe Ghartey, the Second Deputy Speaker and MP for Esikado Ketan, who sat in the chair, directed that the Committee on Health teamed up with other collaborators to develop action beyond the annual statements to mark the day.

In a related development, the House commended Nigeria for the successful conduct of its recent general elections, and the inauguration of the President-elect,  Muhammadu Buhari, after a statement by Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, MP for Anyaa Sowutuom.

The House also made contributions to a statement by Mr Kobena Mensah Woyome, MP for South Tongu, to mark the World Day for Cultural Diversity.

Mr Isacc Adjei-Mensah, Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways,  was in the House to answer questions related to his Ministry.

Source: GNA

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