|MPs Kicks Against Tobacco Use|
|Friday, 01 June 2012 08:03|
Members of Parliament yesterday expressed concern over the use of tobacco and its devastating impact on the society and appealed to the general public to desist from the act.
The legislators, who were contributing to a statement on the floor of the House to commemorate this year's World No Tobacco Day, also reiterated their commitment to enact laws that will regulate tobacco use and mitigate its effects on the society.
The annual World No Tobacco Day is observed around the world on May 31 and is meant to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption across the globe and draw global attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and its negative health effects.
The maker of the statement and MP for Okai Koi North, Hon Elizabeth Sackey, pointed out that "tobacco consumption in all forms is a critical public health priority adding that statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the death toll from smoking was horrendous and killed more than 5 million people per year world wide”.
She noted that "the theme for the celebrations is a clarion call for well meaning people to campaign with focus on the need to expose and counter the tobacco industry's brazen and increasingly aggressive attempts to undermine the WHO framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) because of the serious dangers they pose to public health."
Mrs Elizabeth Sackey observed that studies have pointed to smoking as a risk in vision loss among older persons, mental impairment later in life, Alzheimer's diseases and other forms of dementia adding that attempts to improve human lives would be meaningless until their health issues were given the needed priority.
She intimated that some cost effective measures that could be used to curb the impact of tobacco consumption were population-wide public policies like bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products, tobacco tax and price increase, forbidding of smoking in all public and work places, as well as requiring large clear and visible graphic health messages on tobacco packaging.
Mrs Elizabeth Sackey appealed to the House to work relentlessly to safeguard the health of the citizenry by putting in place measures to minimise the effects of smoking.
Chairman of the Health Committee in Parliament, Alhaji Mohamed -Mubarak Muntaka, in a contribution to the statement said Members were currently working around the clock to pass the Public Health Bill together with the Tobacco Bill into an Act to regulate the use of tobacco in the country and give effective meaning to the ratification of the WHO FCTC .
According to him, Ghana intends to ban smoking in public places, ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, prohibit young people under the age of 21 from buying and selling tobacco products and mandate the printing of Pictorial Health Warnings on tobacco packs to cover 50% of the principal display areas.
He assured that Parliament will work expeditiously to pass the bill in the coming weeks.
Minority leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, in his contribution "called for the need to intensify public education against the use of tobacco since its effects on the citizens are devastating."
He expressed concerns about the effects of smoking on children and on the reproductive health of women and appealed to the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs to come up with a strategy to educate women and children on the effects of tobacco.
Professor Michael Oquaye, Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament in his submission called on civil society organisations, as well as all stakeholders to have a new commitment towards the bill once it becomes law in order to achieve the desired results.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a statement to commemorate the day has called on other Ministries, Agencies, Departments, policy and decision makers to be alert and resist efforts by operators of the tobacco industry to undermine or disrupt tobacco control initiatives.
It said interference had derailed or weakened strong tobacco control policies and there were maneuvering to hijack the political and legislative process of countries, and the economic importance of the tobacco industry was exaggerated.
Source: ISD (Gilbert Ankrah)