Thursday, June 11, 2009

NGO urges early passage of Tobacco Control Bill

NGO urges early passage of Tobacco Control Bill Ghanaian Times
29th June 2009
By Patrick Baidoo

THE Executive Director of Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), Mr. Issah Ali, has urged government to facilitate the passage of “Tobacco Control Bill (TCB)” into law.
He said government’s inability to pass was the major reason why much young person smoke at public places exposing non smokers to tobacco related diseases.
Addressing the Media Alliance in Tobacco Control (MATCO), a network of journalists against tobacco use during a press conference in Accra yesterday, he said that when passed, the Tobacco Act would provide the framework for effective tobacco control and help reduce tobacco related disease and deaths. “Scientifically it has been proven that tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke cause lung cancer, heart and respiratory diseases, stroke and other fatal ailments,” the Executive Director said.
He said that the Tobacco Act had become more crucial now because tobacco companies in their own countries had targeted developing countries like Ghana as a safe haven for their products to the detriment of the nations human resource quality.
“Ghana is struggling to address health issues such as malaria, tuberculoses, HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality while our health facilities are over stretched and as such can not cope with additional heart diseases and cancers; hence, the Tobacco Law,” he said.
Mr. Ali said that since there can be no safe haven for non-smokers in the country VALD was recommending a 100 per cent ban on smoking in all public places.
“Kenya, Zambia and other countries have banned public smoking. Public smoking in Abuja is illegal and even designating special places for smokers cannot protect non-smokers” he said.
He further said that the bill, when passed, will be in accordance with the International Framework Convention on Tobacco Control [FCTC] provision which prohibits advertisement and promotion of tobacco products and donation, sponsorship and advertisement of tobacco firms and their products.
The Executive Director of VALD also called on government to increase tobacco tax as a means of making the product expensive and unattractive for the youth to patronize. Besides this, he said, it was also important for tobacco products to be labeled clearly for persons to see the health implication.
“The bill calls for the labeling of tobacco products and such we are recommending a plain package for all tobacco product and safe of single cigarette sticks to be banned.
“The picture warning would make a high percentage of the population aware of the dangers tobacco usage,” he said.

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