It has been announced that more than 6,700 Ghanaians die annually from tobacco-related illnesses and that translates into 18 deaths daily.
Unfortunately, 1,206, representing 18 per cent of the figure, die from exposure to second-hand smoke.
In other words, three people meet their untimely death due to other people’s (smokers’) bad habit.
The evil effects of smoking in general make one wonder why people indulge in this health hazard of a habit.
Tobacco use attracted scientific controversies in the 1960s, and condemnation in the 1980s.
Scientists say the nicotine in tobacco causes pleasant feelings and distracts the user from unpleasant feelings and that this makes the tobacco user want to use more and more.
Researchers say most smokers really want to quit but cannot because of withdrawal problems like problems with sleep.
The situation means smokers need special assistance for them to be able to quit the habit to save themselves, those close to them such as family members and friends from the associated health hazards and even death.
Besides, they would save the country the healthcare problems, including the financial burden and the time, energy and skills needed for those who really need them.
Since the 1980s, countries, as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations (UN), have been making the efforts to help eradicate smoking.
Ghana, for instance, has the Tobacco Control Measures as part of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851), 2012; adopted the Tobacco Control Regulations (L.I. 2247).
The LI 2247, being the Smoking Cessation Clinical Guidelines for Ghana and Tobacco Control Regulations, was launched in May 2017 by the WHO office in Ghana in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and Foods and Drugs Authority during the national launch of World No Tobacco Day.
Reference to the occasion is relevant because on that day, Mrs Tina Mensah, the then Deputy Health Minister, who launched the LI, in a keynote address, said the Ministry would adopt health polices to control tobacco use and adopt a proper monitoring mechanism to observe the progress being made.
Furthermore, Mrs Mensah said the Ministry was serious with the need to control tobacco use as that was in pursuance of the Sustainable Development Goal 3, which emphasises healthy life and well-being of individuals worldwide.
At the same event, Mrs Delese A Darko, the Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) said her outfit was committed to creating a “Tobacco Free Society” and that aside its regulatory role, it would continue to sensitise the public to the substance as well as meet and train target groups such as hotels, schools, and transport service stations.
Currently Ghana has been selected as the Phase Three 2030 project country of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
According to the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the project was timely as it would help eradicate the emerging tobacco control challenges in the country, which included the absence of comprehensive smoke-free policies, weak inter-agency coordination and difficulties in implementing a total ban on tobacco product advertising.
Are the ministry and the FDA showing commitment to what they have promised to do?