25.03.2004 General News

Millions of lives at risk from diseases linked to smoking - WHO

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Accra, March 25, GNA - The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that by 2030 if nothing was done to curb the trend of tobacco use, 10 million people would die annually from cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other conditions linked to smoking.

It also predicts that as many as 70 per cent of these victims would be in the Developing World.

Dr Melville O. George, WHO Representative in Ghana, said this in a speech read for him at a workshop organized by the Consumer Concerns Initiative in Accra to sensitise the youth on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

The FCTC was developed in 1999 in response to current globalisation of the tobacco epidemic and to get people to kick the habit of smoking and to reduce the estimated five million deaths a year caused by smoking.

Dr Melville said the spread of the epidemic was facilitated through a variety of complex factors with cross-border effects, including trade liberalization, foreign direct investment, and other factors such as global marketing trans-national tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and the international movement of contraband and counterfeit cigarettes.

He said since 1999 when the organization started negotiations on the FCTC, over 13 million people had died from tobacco-related illnesses and urged all countries to ratify the treaty to fully implement its important public health measures.

So far the 192-Member World Health Assembly adopted the Convention, 101 countries had signed the treaty but only nine had ratified it. Dr Andrew Arde-Acquah, Accra Metro Director of Health Services, said smoking reduced the growth in babies or instant deaths in their mother's womb.

It also affected their middle ears making it difficult for them to hear properly, he said, and advised all pregnant women to avoid smoking or living closer to smokers.

He said passive smokers were equally at risk of tobacco-related diseases as the smokers themselves and stressed the need to pass a law that would protect the rights of non-smokers.

Mr Jonathan Acquah, Legal Consultant, Consumer Concerns Initiative, called on the Government to make a law to control manufacturing, sales and distribution of tobacco and its related products in the country to protect innocent lives.

He also stressed the need to prohibit tobacco producers and manufacturers from advertising their products through sponsorships in order not to entice the minors to start using their products. 25 Mar. 04

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