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01.02.2007 General News

Professor Akosa's Tips For Smokers

By Francis Xah
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For people trying to quit smoking, and those not yet convinced about the need to quit, here are a few tips from Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service:

= Those who quit smoking would enjoy a heart rate drop within 20 minutes.

= Within 12 hours, a smoker’s blood carbon dioxide level drops to normal.

= Within two weeks to three months, risk of heart attack drops and lungs function better.'

= Within one to nine months, coughing and breathlessness decrease.

= In about a year of quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease drops to half.

= Within five years of quitting smoking, the risk of stroke reduces almost to that of non-smokers.

= Within 10 years, lung cancer death rate reduces to half.

= Risk of other cancers markedly reduces. Prof. Akosa gave the tips at a meeting with representatives of religious bodies in Accra on Tuesday on 'Ghana’s readiness for tobacco control.'

Quoting from statistics from a study he and his team of three undertook on the implementation of the Framework for Convention of Tobacco Control, Prof. Akosa said the total views of 242 parliamentarians, policy-makers, media personnel, civil society groups, and health professional groups in the country were sampled on the most effective strategies in controlling smoking and the use of tobacco products.

He said 93 per cent (225) called for a ban on smoking in public places, while 93.4 per cent opted for a ban in indoor workplaces.

He said 76 per cent (184) of those interviewed said there should be a ban on cigarette advertisements while 76.4 per cent (185) said it should be banned at social events by sponsors.

A total of 197 respondents (about 81.4 per cent) called for tax increases in tobacco products, while 96.3per cent (233 people) disapprove of minors (those under 18 years) selling cigarette and other tobacco products.

Briefing participants on what Ghana’s Tobacco bill seeks to achieve, Prof. Akosa said, it will protect the fundamental rights of citizens, and prevent the effect of smoking on health and also defer young people and adults from taking up smoking, and also encourages existing smokers to give up.

He said the seminar with the religious bodies, would document suggestions on how to facilitate the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which Ghana ratified on November 29, 2004.

Prof. Akosa outlined the FCTC’s objective to 'protect' present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.

The convention has banned tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship in all the 168 countries that signed the treaty. It also encourages them to increase taxes on the product and print large health warning labels that should cover 50 per cent or more of display areas of the cigarette packed.