Delay in passage of LI on tobacco control affecting implementation

SmokingVision for Alternative Development (VALD), a civil society organisation, has called on Ghanaians, especially the media to help push for the passage of the Legislative Instrument (LI) on the Tobacco Control Measures.

It said the delay in the process for the adoption of the LI is hampering the effective implementation of the prohibition of tobacco smoking in public places.

The Tobacco Control Measures is Part Six of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851), which was passed by Parliament.

However, four years down the line the LI to operationalise the tobacco measures is yet to be realized.

Mr Issah Ali, Director of VALD made the call at a workshop for journalists to brainstorm on the way forward for the promulgation of the LI to make the work of civil society organisations effective.

He said the delay had encouraged people to flout the law since there is no basis for arrest and prosecution.

Mr Ali said a lot of education in a number of communities and schools has been organized by VALD, to sensitise people on the dangers of tobacco use and the law, but the LI would strengthen their operations.

He urged the media to be at the forefront to ignite passion and query policy makers in the Ministry of Health, Food and Drugs Authority, Health Committee of Parliament, Sub-Legislative Committee of Parliament, individual stakeholders in health and other relevant agencies on why the delay in the passage of the LI.

Mr Ali said Ghana is a party to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and has ratified it since 2004.

The Convention enjoins the country to take administrative, legislative and any other bottlenecks to curb the incidence of smoking and reduce the hazards associated with it.

He reminded the public that Tobacco is extremely injurious to the health of both smokers and non-smokers and causes diseases like lung cancer, bronchitis and emphysema and that it is also linked to the high incidence and gravity of cardiac diseases.

Mr Ali said the FCTC seeks to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to its smoke, saying “the benefits of this law will be seen in the control and management of diseases”.

Participants were educated on the 13 key elements of the Sixth of Part of Act 851 and wer reminded that anybody who violates the Act commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than 750 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than three years or to both.

Mr Labram Musah, Programmes Director of VALD who spoke on the interference of the tobacco industry said the media have a huge responsibility to the people and urged them to resist being manipulated by the tobacco industry.

“Whilst some civil society groups like us, are fighting for the good health of the people, others are being influence by tobacco industry to thwart our efforts and this is not acceptable.”

He called on the government to use monies accrued from tobacco taxes to provide some alternative livelihood to people who are into tobacco farming to curtail tobacco industry manipulations.

Mr Musah said the World Health Organisation’s research indicates that many people are dying as a result of tobacco-related diseases

Mr Musah said non-smokers of tobacco are even at more risk and appealed to landlords to provide toilet facilities in their homes because cigarette smoking is mostly done at the public toilets which poses danger to public health.

Source: GNA

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