30.05.2009 General News

VALD Urges Early Passage Of Tobacco Control Bill

30.05.2009 LISTEN
By Victoria Osafo Bema

The Executive Director of Vision of Alternative Development (VALD), a Non-governmental Agency, Mr. Issah Ali, has urged government to facilitate the passage of the Tobacco Control Bill (TCB) into law.

He said government's inability to pass the bill is the major reason why many young persons smoke at public places exposing non smokers to tobacco related diseases.

Addressing the Media Alliance on Tobacco Control (MATCO),a network of journalists against tobacco use during a press conference in Accra, he said that when passed, the Tobacco Act would provide a framework for effective tobacco control and help reduce tobacco related diseases and death.

Mr. Ali said scientifically it has been proven that tobacco smoke causes lung cancer, heart and respiratory diseases, stroke and other fatal ailments.

'Ghana is struggling to address health issues such as malaria, tuberculoses, HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality while our health facilities are overstretched and as such cannot cope with additional heart diseases and cancers; hence the Tobacco Law.' he said.

He said the Tobacco Act has become more crucial now because tobacco companies in their own countries have targeted developing countries like Ghana as a safe haven for their products to the detriment of the nations human resource quality.

'Kenya, Zambia and other countries have banned public smoking, Public smoking in Abuja is illegal and even designating special places for smokers cannot protect non-smokers. he noted.

The Executive Director stressed that since there can be no safe haven for non- smokers in the country VALD was recommending a 100 percent ban on smoking in all public places.

According to him, the bill when passed will be in accordance with the Internationals Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) provision which prohibits advertisement of tobacco firms and their products.

He said the picture warning would make a high percentage of the population aware of the dangers of tobacco usage.

The bill calls for the labeling of tobacco products and such we are recommending a plain package for all tobacco products and sale of single cigarette sticks to be banned.

He urges government to increase tobacco tax as a means of making the product expensive and unattractive for the youth to patronise.

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