Ghana is in the process of completing the ratification of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.
The Protocol is an international treaty with the objective of eliminating all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products through a package of measures to be taken by countries, acting in cooperation with each other.
Ghana is an eligible party to the protocol by extension of her subscription to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).
Dr Olivia Agyekumwaa Boateng, Head of Tobacco and Substances Abuse Department, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the WHO FCTC Technical Focal Person for tobacco control in Ghana, said in line with the WHO FCTC stipulations, Parliament had examined and acceded to the provisions of the Protocol.
She noted that the Protocol was yet to receive Presidential assent, after which it would be deposited with the United Nations Secretariat for it to become effective.
Dr Boateng stated this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sideline of the Tobacco Control Capacity Programme (TCCP), Dissemination and Engagement Meeting in Accra organised by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) School of Public Health.
She said the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Protocol was a significant milestone in the history of tobacco control and highlighted the relevance of the protocol, especially in securing the supply chain of tobacco products nationally and globally.
Dr Boateng said Ghana had taken many steps to regulate the tobacco product supply chain in the country, including regulatory oversight on the registration of tobacco companies, tobacco imports, sale and supply through inspections and other monitoring activities.
Various requirements have also been set to enhance the easy identification of licit tobacco products on the market.
She said, “These are all measures adopted to control the infiltration of our market with illicit tobacco products. For example, tobacco product labeling intended for the Ghanaian market should include, ‘FOR SALE IN GHANA ONLY’, emission statements and pictorial health warnings validated for use in Ghana.”
She also indicated that, within the protocol were recommendations for countries to advance their laws to ensure that illicit tobacco trade came to a halt.
Dr Boateng said the Protocol contained a range of measures to combat illicit trade distribution in three categories: Preventing Illicit Trade, Promoting Law Enforcement and Providing Legal Basis for International Corporation.
She said for it to be effective, the Protocol provided for intensive international and local stakeholder engagement and cooperation; hence, stakeholders’ commitment and support to the initiative against the tobacco menace was critical to its successful implementation in Ghana.
Dr Boateng said the FDA in collaboration with the Vision for Alternative Development (VALD) hosted an Inter-Agency Meeting targeted at facilitating discussions in domesticating the protocol and commended the stakeholders.
She said the outcomes of the Inter-Agency Meeting were critical elements that were incorporated into the development of a roadmap towards the implementation of the protocol in Ghana.
The Tobacco control programme is funded by grants from the Research Councils UK as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund, started in 2018.
It is led by Professor Linda Bauld from the University of Edinburgh and involves academics in six UK Universities and eight research organizations in Africa and South Asia, including the Medical Research Council (MRC), Unit of The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
The programme is scheduled to end in December 2021.
The aim of the TCCP is to improve research capacity in low- and middle-income countries such as Ghana to conduct high quality studies that will generate evidence on how to reduce morbidity and mortality caused by tobacco use and to advance key development priorities.
The TCCP-Ghana till date has conducted two major researches; the smoke-free policy and illicit tobacco trade under the leadership of Prof Ellis Owusu-Dabo, Pro-Vice Chancellor, KNUST and the Principal Investigator for the TCCP in Ghana.