A Tobacco Control Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee (TC-IACC) has been inaugurated to contribute to policy and formulation of laws and legislative instruments for the Tobacco Control Measures of the Public Health Act.

The Public Health Act 2012 (Act 851) was passed into law by Parliament on July 11, 2012 and the Section six of it focuses on Tobacco Control Measures in Ghana of which the legislative instruments were yet to be passed.

The Committee would be meeting every quarterly to discuss tobacco control issues.

In his inaugural address Mr Salimata Abdul-Salam, Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, said the fight against tobacco was an all-inclusive and that each and every individual and agency in Ghana had a role to play.

He said the world wass confronted with a global tobacco epidemic which kills nearly six million people each year and that more than 600,000 were non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke.

?Unless we act, the epidemic will kill more than eight million people every year by 2030.  More than 80 per cent of these preventable deaths will be among people living in low and middle-income countries,? he said.

Mr Abdul-Salam said Ghana had made progress in meeting its World Health Organisation (WHO) reporting and payment obligation, passed the Public Health Law, banned tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; continuing with its public education and sensitization, regulating tobacco products and using taxation to reduce consumption among other.

However, there were still many health challenges to be addressed with all seriousness, given the enormity and the limited resources available to meet priority public health needs.

?The tobacco industry still continues its cunning advertising and promotion through use of matches and candies brought into the country through illicit trade.  They interact with students and out of school youth under the guise of sponsoring social activities and providing them with free unbranded cigarette sticks for use,? he said.

Mr Abdul-Salam urged the committee members to place priority on the job assigned to them and give it their full commitment to ensure that all people living in Ghana are protected from the harmful effect of tobacco and its products use.

?It is important to note that tobacco use is a risk factor for many non-communicable diseases and addressing the tobacco epidemic will contribute positively in addressing the double burden of non-communicable and communicable disease facing our public health system,? he said.

Dr Kyei-Faried of the Disease Control and Prevention Department of the Ghana Health Service in a presentation said approximately 1.3 billion people smoked cigarette globally.

?In Ghana 9.7 per cent males and 0.4 females aged 15-49 years of age use tobacco products.  Six per cent of men currently smoke cigarette with an average male use of 3-5 cigarette sticks per day.?

Dr Kyei-Faried said the prevalence is highest in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.

He said a Global Youth Tobacco Survey conducted among Junior High Schools in 2009 showed that 12.8 per cent of students aged 13 to 15 years currently use any tobacco products which represent males 14.1 per cent and females 10.6 per cent.

He enumerated the effects of tobacco smoking as cancers, heart diseases, chronic lung diseases, eye problems, hearing loss, bone problems, stomach ulcer, infertility and child bearing and skin problems.

Mr Issah Ali, Executive Director of Vision for Alternative Development, said the tobacco industry had now adopted electronic cigarette (e-cagrette), a battery-powered device which simulates tobacco smoking.

He said the device generally used a heating element that vaporized liquid solutions which contains mixture of nicotine flavour and advised the public to be on the alert not to fall prey to it.

Source: GNA


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