Ghana - Tobacco Control Bill to parliament this month, July 2009..

July 13, 2009 - Though Ghana was the 39th country to ratify the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004, it is yet to pass a Bill on tobacco use.

Dr. Sipa Yankey, the Minister of Health, pledges that government will give the Bill greater attention. He says he will ensure that the Tobacco Control Bill is sent to parliament this month. Dr. Yankey press release by the Ghana Health Service (GHS): “The passage of the bill is long over due since Ghana ratified the FCTC as the 39th country some years ago.”

The Tobacco Control Bill was drafted by Ghana’s Food and Drugs Board (FDB) and the coalition of anti-smoking organisations. It was then handed over to the then Minister of Health in June 2005. However, the draft Bill has not moved beyond Cabinet. A Cabinet approval of any Bill is necessary before it can be sent to Parliament for scrutiny and debate. The Minister’s pledge has come four years after the Bill was sent to cabinet through the then Minister of Health.

Government has been severely criticised for its apparent lack of commitment and political will to the passage of the Tobacco Control Bill. But the Health Minister says nothing will stop them from passing the bill since it is in the public interest.
Dr. Yankey: “I will shepherd it [the Bill] in and out of parliament to make sure it [the Bill] is passed,” he said in an interview with Joy FM.

In line with the FCTC, the Minister explains that the Bill will serve as a legal framework for the enforcement of tobacco related activities. “Advertising tobacco products will not be in place when the Bill is passed into Law,” he says, “It will also ban smoking in public place.” Besides, Dr. Yankey also says, in accordance with the FCTC protocol, the bill will bar tobacco companies from sponsoring public events.

Dr. Yankey explains that since other countries, both developed and developing, have been able to put in place mechanisms to regulate tobacco use, Ghana should be able to do so. “Kenya, Tanzania, Gambia and Benin have succeeded in enacting laws banning smoking at public places,” the GHS press release states.

According to a publication in the Gye Nyame Concord newspaper, a survey conducted by the Health Research Unit (HRU) of the Ghana Health Service in 2007 found out that many Ghanaians are concerned about tobacco use. “Out of 300 respondents in Accra who were interviewed, 200 expressed concern and gave reasons such as its health hazards, effect on nation’s economy, its effect on non-smokers and the fact that smoking leads to the use of hard drugs,” the report says.

Contrary to a popular misconception that the Bill seeks to ban the sale and use of tobacco, Professor Agyeman-Badu Akosah says that is not he case. He is a former Director of the GHS and one of the advocates of the Bill. “We’re not saying you cannot smoke; we’re simply saying let’s ensure that you do not endanger non-smokers by smoking near them”, he is cite by the Gye Nyame Concord newspaper to have said.

Related news briefs: Ghana to ban smoking in public places in November 2008..; FCTC Member Ghana - NO Law Banning Sales of Tobacco to Minors.. and British American Tobacco (BAT) - 100 years in Africa..

Reference: Ghana’s Tobacco Bill to go to Parliament Soon by senyo ofori-parku,, 7/7/2009.

Click on image to enlarge, Coat-of-Arms Republic of Ghana..