KNUST Pro-VC urges Ghanaians to ensure compliance with smoke-free policy

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Health Smoke Free Policy
Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo

Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), has urged Ghanaians to ensure strict compliance with the smoke-free policy in public places as stipulated in the Public Health Act.

Smoke-free policies are public-sector regulations and private-sector rules that prohibit smoking in indoor spaces and designated public areas.

He said a study carried out by the KNUST School of Public Health, revealed that the smoke free policy was not holding the way Ghanaians expected it to go.

He noted that their study showed that there still persisted second hand smoking in public areas where there was supposed to be restrictions or complete ban on smoking in some hospitality venues.

Prof Owusu-Dabo made these revelations known in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sideline of the Tobacco Control Capacity Programme (TCCP), Dessemination and Engagement Meeting in Accra, organized by the KNUST School of Public Health.

“We should adhere to the ban on smoking in public places. We should also ensure that we protect each other from the harmful effects of tobacco,” Prof Owusu-Dabo said.

“And more importantly those who are smoking, I will advise them to quit; and if they need help, they should seek help from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the agencies of Government in the health sector.”

Prof Owusu-Dabo said their study indicated that at least between 30 and 40 per cent of the cigarettes on the market in Ghana were illicit.

“What it means is that we need to tighten our borders and find ways of ensuring that we are dealing with the right people who import cigarettes and other tobacco products into the country. So that we can enforce all these public health interventions,” he stated.

“It is important also to realize that when it comes to illicit tobacco trade it is a problem, that the Government should take action to tighten the borders in ensuring that we implement the full-scale ad valorem tax in tandem with modern trends; which would ensure that people do not take up to smoking, because smoking as we know it is a very important predator risk factor for several noncommunicable diseases.”

The Pro-Vice Chancellor said while the nation had not won the battle with infectious diseases, it was important that Ghanaians did not attempt to fuel the double burden of non-communicable diseases as well.

When it comes to taxation, Prof Owusu-Dabo said their study findings indicated that Ghana was doing pretty well in the West Africa subregion.

The Tobacco control programme funded by a grant from the Research Councils UK, as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund, began in 2018.

Led by Professor Linda Bauld from the University of Edinburgh, involving academics in six UK Universities and eight research organizations in Africa and South Asia, include the Medical Research Council (MRC) Unit, 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 research areas; smoke-free policy and illicit tobacco trade under the leadership of Prof Ellis Owusu-Dabo, the Principal Investigator for the TCCP in Ghana.

The findings from the illicit tobacco trade study conducted by the TCCP research fellow, Dr Arti Singh, a Faculty Member of the School of Public Health, KNUST, indicated that one in five cigarettes in Ghana was illicit.

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