Ghana - public forum on the tobacco control bill..

November 25, 2009 - Government would ensure that tobacco control is included in the country's developmental agenda to free Ghanaians from tobacco addiction, disabilities and death. Already the Ministry of Health has taken steps to ban smoking in health facilities and prohibited tobacco advertisement through various administrative directives.

Dr Benjamin Kumbour, Minister of Health-designate announced this in an address read on his behalf at a public forum on Ghana's Tobacco Control Bill in Accra on Thursday.

It was organised by Vision for Alternative Development, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in collaboration with Coalition of NGOs in Tobacco Control and Media Alliance in Tobacco Control. It was aimed at offering the participants the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the passage of the Tobacco Control Bill when presented to Parliament. Mr Issah Ali, Executive Director of Vision for Alternative Development, said the use of tobacco was the gateway to the use of hard drugs, which was causing harm to most Ghanaians. He therefore urged the government to protect its citizens against diseases by putting up measures to control the menace.

Some of the provision of the bill included the ban of smoking at public places, advertisement on tobacco and sponsoring events and sales by children under 18 years.

Dr Kumbour said the World Health Organisation (WHO) report indicated that close to five million people die annually as a result of tobacco use and exposure to the smoke. He said tobacco was projected to kill more than 10 million smokers and passive smokers by 2030 with 70 per cent in developing countries including Ghana.

Dr Kumbour said Ghana played a key role during the negotiation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). He said Ghana was among the first 40 parties to the Convention, adding that Ghana had since participated in all meetings and inter-governmental Negotiation Bodies. The FCTC is a global collective decision taken by more than 168 countries including Ghana and that the development of the convention was approved by the WHO Assembly and negotiated under the auspices of the WHO.

Dr Kumbour pledged the ministry's commitment to ensuring that children and the youth were not exposed to tobacco use and the use of hard drugs. Dr Kumbour expressed the hope that the recommendations of the forum would be considered by the Ministry in ensuring a strong law to control tobacco in the country.

Dr Promise Sefogah, Programmes Director of Doctors for Right To Health (DRH), an NGO said tobacco was the leading, cause of preventable disease death world wide and that it had serious negative effects on every single organ of the body. He therefore urged the youth to desist from using tobacco which he said had negative effects on their mental and physical development.

Reference: NGO holds forum on Tobacco Control Bill, Peace FM Online, 11/20/2009.

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