Dr. Mrs. Olivia Agyekumwaa Boateng, Head of Tobacco and Substances Abuse Department of the FDA, who made the call, said although tobacco use was licit in Ghana, the threat it posed to health was enormous and there should be effective ways to guide its users.
Speaking at a training workshop on the enforcement of tobacco control regulations: advancing tobacco control enforcement in Ghana, in Kumasi, she said tobacco contained over 7,000 harmful chemicals, which were not safe for human consumption in any form either through inhalation, sniffing, chewing, smoking and piping.
“No form of tobacco use is safe,” she observed, adding that every part of the smoker’s body was affected and could cause cancers, affect fertility, cause impotence in men, and heart diseases among others.
She said the perception by some youth, especially females, that ‘Shisha’ was safe was not true.
She explained that an hour’s use of ‘Shisha’ was equivalent to 100 combustible sticks of cigarette used, adding that it was equally dangerous.
Dr. Mrs. Boateng said a 2017 survey on prevalence of tobacco use in Ghana among the youth revealed that 5.4 per cent of young girls smoked ‘Shisha’ while 4.7 percent of boys smoked the product.
The meeting was aimed at bridging the knowledge gap in tobacco regulation among other law enforcing agencies, stakeholders and traditional authorities.
It was organized by the FDA with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure a comprehensive implementation strategy, establish a taskforce for tobacco control at the regional level and to develop a coordinating mechanism for tobacco control.
Dr. Mrs. Boateng who is also the Coordinator of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Ghana, said the Tobacco Atlas Ghana estimated that over 807,600 people smoke cigarettes and other tobacco products in the country.
The WHO indicates that more than 80 per cent of the 1.3 billion tobacco users globally live in low-and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest.
Globally, tobacco kills more than eight million people annually.
Dr. Mrs. Boateng called on stakeholders to assist the FDA in educating the public on the dangers of tobacco use.
Mrs. Nora Narkie Terlarbi, Ashanti Regional Head of the FDA, pledged to collaborate with stakeholders in the region to highlight issues of tobacco use control, which had increasingly proven to be complex and multi-faceted.