Gambia - Enforcing public smoking ban is long overdue..

April 20, 2009 - The Gambian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has banned smoking in all public places in accordance with a nation-wide regional consultation on the Prohibition of Smoking Act of 1998. The Act defines public places to include all government premises, all work places, hospitals or health facilities, private premises, vehicles and shops to which the public have access.

A statement from the ministry urged all heads of institutions, organisations, and other public places to comply with the provisions of the act, which takes effect Friday, as smoking would be allowed only in clearly labelled designated smoking areas. A person guilty of violating the Act is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $US20 and not less that $US10 or a term of imprisonment not more than three months or both fine and imprisonment.

The release quoted the World Health Organization indicating that over 5 million people die around the world each year due both active and passive smoking, adding that it is common knowledge that many people innocently or unknowingly become victims of tobacco use by being exposed to second hand smoke at their places of work, homes or public places.

The ministry of Health and Social Welfare said it has already concluded nationwide regional consultations on the Act and has expressed its readiness to educate the general public on the Act as well as the overall hazards of tobacco.

EXTRA - Gambia, the smallest on the continent, averages only 20 mi (32 km) in width. Gambia is one of the smallest and poorest countries in Africa, it has a population of about 1.5 million.

Reference: Enforcing smoking Act is Long Overdue The Point Newspaper, 4/20/2009; Gambia News : Gambia bans smoking in public places, Gambia News, 4/17/2009.

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Gambia has ratified the
WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Treaty. Gambia was one of the few countries that endorsed FCTC treaty after the World Health Assembly in 2003.