Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pass Tobacco Control Bill

Pass Tobacco Control Bill
(March 16th, 2009)

Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), an NGO, has appealed to President Atta Mills to ensure the passage of the Tobacco Control Bill into law "to protect the health of children, pregnant women and vulnerable groups in the country."`

Whilst congratulating the President on his electoral victory, the NGO says he must use his good offices to ensure the bill is laid before Parliament for deliberation and passage.The appeal is also to the new Minister of Health, Dr. Geaorge Sipa Yankey. "We are highly optimistic that your government would work extensively to improve the health and to alleviate poverty in accordance with the provisions of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)."

Ghana ratified the FCTC; international tobacco control treaty on 29th November 2004 with the objective to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke."

A Draft National Tobacco Control Bill was developed to domesticate the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, but the draft bill is yet to be approved by Cabinet and be presented to Parliament for debate and approval.

"Your Excellency, we strongly recommend your office to facilitate the process and present the Draft National Tobacco Control Bill to Parliament for passage into law to protect the health of the children, pregnant women and vulnerable groups in the country," Mr. Issah Ali (Board Member of African Tobacco Control Alliance - ATCA and Executive Director of Vision for Alternative Development - VALD) said.

Tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke are said to be in charge of the death of close to 5 million people every year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The figure is projected to increase to 10 million deaths annually by 2030 and 70 per cent from developing countries, including Ghana if tobacco control measures are not adopted. Tobacco harms public health; it has scientifically been linked to dreadful diseases such as cancer, heart diseases and asthma.

Tobacco has also been linked to psychosocial disorder, miscarriage, and infertility. It is a risk factor for low birth weight and mental retardation among children.

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