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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Tobacco Kills One Person Each Second

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The World Health Organization representative in Ghana, Dr Daniel Keterz, has disclosed that tobacco continues to be one of the biggest public health threats killing a person

every second with eight out of every 10 smokers living in developing countries.

He therefore called on governments to impose comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising and sponsorship, smoking in public places and protection of women from second hand smoke especially in countries where women felt powerless.

Dr. Keterz made the call at the launch of the World No Tobacco Day celebration in Accra under the theme: “Gender and Tobacco with Emphasis on Marketing to Women” held last week.

He also called for the implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), to guarantee the ban on smoking in public places to ensure a 100 per cent smoke free environment.

According to him, the FCTC is an international treaty enacted in 2005 by various countries hence governments, health partners and civil society must come together to address the global epidemic.

According to the WHO, women who smoke are likely to be infertile whiles maternal smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of premature delivery, still births, newborn deaths and may cause reduction in breast milk.

The Minister of Health, Dr Benjamin Kunbour assured that the much awaited draft bill on tobacco was before Cabinet and that after fine tuning and the legalities on the definition of a public place done explicitly, it would be put before Parliament for passage.

Dr. Kunbour said though the ministry does wish to have the bill passed, it was not responsible for the legalities involved, noting that work is done the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General.
He urged Ghanaians not to condemn smokers but rather help them, adding that tobacco products should be made less affordable and if possible banned altogether.

For her part, the Minister of women and Children’s Affairs, Mrs Juliana Azumah-Mensah, observed that though tobacco was mostly used by men, statistics on women falling prey to tobacco use was on the increase especially in developing countries.

This she said was due to low pricing, peer pressure, deceptive advertising and promotion from tobacco companies.

Mrs Azumah-Mensah, also a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, advised that while awaiting the passage of the bill, the media and all stakeholders should come on board to campaign against tobacco use, its control and eliminate the emerging public health hazard.

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Alhaji Mustapha Ahmed, on his part stated that out of the world’s one billion smoker population, 200 million were women and out of the five million annual deaths due to tobacco use, 1.5 million were women.

Alhaji Ahmed, who is the Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, noted that it was imperative to protect women from this harm and marketing target of the tobacco industry. He was hopeful that passage of the bill would keep Ghana out of the web of tobacco and its related consequences.

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