The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has called for engagement to explore culturally acceptable alternatives to tobacco use in Northern Ghana.
The Authority identified possible cultural impediments to tobacco control in northern Ghana, especially in the Upper East Region, and said stakeholder engagements on exploring culturally acceptable alternatives for tobacco use was needed.
Mrs Delese Mimi Darko, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FDA, in her address at the launch of the World No Tobacco Day celebration in Bolgatanga, said “This year’s launch in Bolgatanga was necessary after identifying possible cultural impediments to tobacco control within the region.”
The launch, on the theme: “Tobacco: Threat to our environment,” was aimed to raise awareness among members of the public on the environmental impact of tobacco.
Mrs Darko noted that over the years, the World No Tobacco Day celebration concentrated on the effects of tobacco use on the health of tobacco users and those around them.
“This year’s focus is on the often-overlooked effects which the environment suffers because of tobacco use, from its cultivation and production to its distribution and consumption.”
That, she said would expose the tobacco industry’s effort to make its products more appealing by marketing them as environmentally friendly.
She said the environmental effects of tobacco were evident in the unexplained bush fires and fire outbreaks at markets and other public places, “This fight against tobacco is a fight against micro plastic and toxins poisoning our water, soil and aquatic life.”
She said with the campaign for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption, governments and policymakers globally were tasked to step up legislations and strengthen existing schemes to make tobacco producers responsible for the environmental and economic costs of dealing with tobacco waste products.
The CEO said the World Health Organization (WHO) also recommended a complete ban on tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship in accordance with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
Mrs Darko said Ghana’s regulation of tobacco control was backed by the provisions of the Public Health Act, 2012 and the Tobacco Control Regulations, 2016 (L.I 2247), noting that measures being enforced were aimed at protecting minors from the influence of the tobacco industry and users as it limited the sale of tobacco to persons above 18years.
She said Ghana’s progress in working with the Ministry of Health, WHO, Vision for Alternative Development (VALD) and other Civil Society Organizations both locally and internationally in tobacco control was remarkable.
Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, in a speech read on his behalf, said tobacco was not only dangerous to the health of the citizenry, but was a threat to the environment through the release of noxious chemicals present in the tobacco smoke.
“Globally, smoking is known to emit nearly 2.6 billion kilogrammes of carbon dioxide and 5.2 billion kilogrammes of methane into the atmosphere each year. This gives a clear picture of how smoking alone contributes to climate change,” he said.
The Minister said the annual celebration of the World No Tobacco Day was a constant reminder of the effort’s citizens could put in the fight against tobacco to ensure Ghana and the world were free of tobacco.
Naba Sigri Bewong, the Paramount Chief of the Sakoti Traditional Area in the Nabdam District of the Region, said the Region’s House of Chiefs had over the period convened Traditional Council meetings on tobacco and its related diseases, and further pushed for the removal of tobacco from dowry requirements. “We are enjoined by law to modify aspects of our custom, which seem to be outmoded,” he added.