Law enforcement agencies in the country have been urged to apply the existing laws against tobacco use, especially the laws against smoking in public places, to stem the harmful tide of tobacco abuse.
”Smoking publicly has become the order of the day now and many seem to have forgotten about the dangers of this practice. It is time for the laws to be applied correctly.”
Mr Emmanuel Fordjour, Chief Economist at the Ministry of Finance made the call at the opening of the 2022 annual training of tobacco control programme for sub-grantees in Accra on Monday.
It was organised by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), African Union’s (AU) specialised agency for capacity building, with support from the Gates Foundation on the theme ‘Enhanced skills in governance and leadership.’
Participants were drawn from African countries, including Benin, Botwana, Cote D’ivoire, Gabon, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritania, Ghana and Senegal.
The programme will afford participants the opportunity to brainstorm and share ideas on governance-related issues and the need to control tobacco use in Africa, especially among the youth.
According to MrFordjour, Ghana had been an active member in the development of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and also became one of the first countries in Africa to prohibit tobacco advertising by issuing a policy directive to that effect in 1982.
He noted that government also passed the Public Health Act (851) in 2012 to take concrete steps to reduce tobacco use in Ghana, adding that provision of the Act included ban on smoking in public areas and tobacco advertising among others.
MrFordjour said “these bold steps were later followed with the passing of the tobacco control regulations which entered into force on January 4, 2017.”
Despite these sustained promulgation of such legal tools to combat effects of tobacco use, he said efforts by the country had recently come under threat from the use of social media to control tobacco use.
He bemoaned that some celebrities often used tobacco products, such as cigars and shisha and displayed them on social media, due to sheer ignorance of the dangers of tobacco usage or for monetary gains.
MrFordjour was of the view that such acts by celebrities posed serious threat to the health of the youth, who sometimes blindly followed such entertainers and emulate their acts because they saw them as role models.
“Celebrities posting images of themselves smoking tobacco have negative impact on their followers and this act is not peculiar to Ghana alone, it is therefore important that all of us come together to devise strategies to stay one step ahead of this negative trend and this calls for collaboration and experience sharing,” he added.
In his submission, Director of Programmes of the ACBF, Professor Sylvain Boko reiterated that leaders across the continent must not relent in their efforts to ensure tobacco use dropped drastically on the continent.
He said research had shown the devastating impact of tobacco abuse on the health of users, and even second-hand smokers, stressing that the time had come for Africa to intensify the fight against tobacco use.
BY RAISSA SAMBOU