Accra, 12 July 2012 – A Bill to provide comprehensive legislation on public health known as the Public Health Bill, 2011 was unanimously passed by Parliament on 11th July 2012.
The Bill is guided by equity, social justice, public education and awareness and a holistic health attitude. Other considerations are individual and social responsibilities, rights, informed consent and partnership.
The legislation brings together legislations which includes; Tobacco Control, Vaccination, Quarantine, Clinical trials, Food and drugs, Communicable diseases, Vector control and Environmental sanitation.
The Sixth Part of the Bill is on tobacco control measures. Smoking of tobacco is a greater cause of death and disability than any other disease although it is preventable. One in every two long-term smokers will ultimately die as a result of tobacco use unless they quit the habit.
Research indicates that more than six million people die in a year and one hundred million people have died in the century as a result of tobacco-related diseases. It is estimated that about one billion people will die in this century unless a number of smokers quit the habit of smoking tobacco or tobacco products. About seven thousand chemical compounds have been identified in tobacco smoke. Of these, sixty nine are known to be cancer causing agents or otherwise toxic which causes diseases like lung cancer, bronchitis and emphysema and is also linked to the high incidence and gravity of cardiac diseases. Tobacco use is therefore extremely injurious to the health of both smokers and non-smokers.
In this country tobacco use is rising steadily especially among the youth. A recent nationwide survey to determine smoking prevalence among school children aged between twelve and eighteen years showed that about fourteen per cent have used tobacco before, and five per cent are currently smoking cigarettes.
Considering the extent of the harmful effect of smoking on health and the culture of associating smoking with social success, business advancement and sporting process through advertisement, in the year 2004, the one hundred and ninety-two member states of the World Health Organisation, including Ghana, adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which bans advertising and sponsorships by tobacco companies.
The Convention which Ghana has since ratified enjoins it to take administrative, legislative and any other means to curb the incidence of smoking and reduce the hazards associated with smoking.
The Tobacco Control Measures of the Public Health Act prohibits smoking in public places, ban advertising of tobacco and tobacco products, ban tobacco sponsorship, ban promotion of tobacco and tobacco products, ban the sale of products that looks likes or is likely to be identified or associated with tobacco or tobacco products, the legislation mandates the printing of health warnings on tobacco packs, prohibit minors from selling, buying, lighting and exposed to tobacco or tobacco products, ban the sell or offer for sale a tobacco or a tobacco products to a child.
The legislation further mandate the Health Ministry to educate the public on the effects of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke and to treat persons addicted to tobacco who wish to quit tobacco use. The Bill bans the sale of tobacco or a tobacco product in health centers, educational institutions, amusement parks, sale of tobacco products through a vending machine. The Act made provisions for testing of tobacco and tobacco products, provides for administrative and miscellaneous and collaboration with relevant bodies to check illicit trade in tobacco and tobacco products and the manufacture of counterfeit tobacco products.
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) is the regulatory agency to deal with tobacco matters and may appoint inspectors and analysts to carry out its functions. The Bill/Act gives power to the Minister to make Regulations, and provides for offences, interpretation and transitional provisions.
We sincerely express our appreciation to the following officials and institutions for their hard-work, dedication and commitment to the entire process leading to the passage of the Public Health Bill; they include: His Excellency; President John Evans Atta Mills, Hon Joseph Yieleh-Chireh; Former Health Minister and Member of Parliament, Hon Algban Sumani Babin; Health Minister, Hon Rojo Mattle Nouno; Deputy Health Minister, Hon Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak; Chairman of Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Hon Prof. Mike Ocquay; Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Members of Parliament, Dr Stephen Opuni; Chief Executive Officer of Food and Drugs Board, Director-General of Ghana Health Service, the Media houses and civil society organizations.
Issah Ali; Executive Director
Vision for Alternative Development (VALD)