The number of junior high school students smoking tobacco in the country has reached an alarming 3.6 percent.
According to research findings from the Disease Control and Prevention Department of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), 12.8 percent of the students aged between 13 to 15 years also use any tobacco product, while 14 percent ever smoked.
Dr Kyei Faried, Deputy Director and Head of the Disease Control And Prevention Department of the GHS, who disclosed this during media sensitisation on World No Tobacco Day said 6.7 percent of males and 0.4 percent of females aged between 15 and 49 years also used tobacco in the country.
He said six percent of men smoked cigarette with an average male use of three to five sticks per day.
Dr Faried said tobacco use has no positive benefit to the human body, adding that it rather destroys the body system and kills the user in the end.
“Our aim is, therefore, to stop young people especially from starting to use tobacco because if they start it becomes difficult to stop,” he said.
He said the government through the Food and Drugs Authority would as part of the measures to curb the disturbing trend start arresting people caught smoking in public in addition to the existing prosecution of those under 18 years caught selling or purchasing tobacco products.
Dr Magda Robalo, World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, in a speech said cigarette consumption worldwide is illegal as many other tobacco products.
She said based on this fact, the international community has provided guidance for the development of comprehensive strategy to address the issue, however to date, only 14 countries have signed on to it with just two ratifying it.
“As we observe World No Tobacco Day 2015, I call upon the member states to ratify the protocol to eliminate illicit trade of tobacco products and also to take concrete steps to implementing its provisions,” she said.
The WHO country representative also called on the public to recognise the adverse health, economic and social impacts that could be brought by illicit trade in tobacco and support their governments to eliminate it.
World Tobacco Day
The World No Tobacco Day is commemorated on the last day of May each year to highlight the dangers associated with tobacco production and use and exposure to tobacco smoke and to advocate effective policies to reduce the tobacco burden.
Nearly 100,000 young people worldwide become addicted to tobacco daily with tobacco use remaining the single most important preventable cause of death worldwide.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri
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