The Minister of Health, Sherry Ayittey, has announced the possible prohibition of public smoking in the country.
She said the Ministry was pushing for the legislative body of the country to make a law that would ban public smoking because of the negative effects it had on non-smoking citizens.
The sector Minister said the country had already passed the Public Health ACT 851 which contains tobacco control measures and would, therefore, move further to ensure that public smoking was banned.
“We believe that when we talk about human rights, your right to smoke and somebody’s right to breathe fresh air are equal, so we have actually developed the legislation and this year we are going to ensure that it is enforced so that we can also help in the prevention of cancer,” she said.
Ms Ayittey made these statements during the official launch of the 2014 World Cancer Day in Accra themed: “Debunk the Myth: Cancer is Preventable, Curable”.
Addressing a gathering of students, health practitioners, personnel from the Ministries, security services and the public, she said the growing use of tobacco, occupational and environmental risks such as air pollution and mining all added to the cancer burden in the country.
She, however, noted that a change in lifestyle of Ghanaians could help prevent 30 percent of cancers and minimize the 16,000 new cases of cancer recorded every year in the country.
“Avoiding tobacco use, alcohol intake, skin bleaching, eating healthy diets and regular test are activities that can help prevent cancer and reduce the burden on the country,” she noted.
Professor E. K Wiredu, Pro -Vice Chancellor of the University of Health and Allied Sciences and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Cancer Society of Ghana, said talking about cancer helps victims to have access to early diagnosis and treatment with many cancers show warning signs. He said facilities are available for treatment and people have the right to cancer care.
The biggest preventable cause of cancer in the world is tobacco with estimates suggesting that approximately one-third of all cancers were caused by tobacco use, making it the cause of at least 22 percent of all cancer deaths.
The enactment of the Tobacco Control Act in Ghana would ban advertisement of tobacco products, ban sale of cigarettes in single sticks and requires obligatory labelling of all packages with visible health warning.