16.04.2004 General News

Parliamentarians urged to support bill on banning smoking

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Accra, April 16, GNA - Professor Agyeman Badu-Akosa, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service on Friday appealed to Parliamentarians to support the passage of the bill on Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) when put before them to save the lives of smokers.

He said the FCTC, developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is the world's first treaty devoted to health to kick out smoking and reduce the estimated four million deaths annually caused by smoking. Forty ratifications are expected for the treaty to come into force but only nine out of 101 countries that signed have ratified The FCTC treaty, which was adopted by the World Health Assembly last year. Prof. Akosa made the appeal when he launched the "Quit and Win" 2004 Competition designed to help smokers to stop smoking in Accra. He said British American Tobacco Company (BAT) had great influence and their activities should not be tolerated at any level adding, "smoking kills and there is no way we should allow people to buy death".

Prof. Akosa noted that during the last Christmas, the Management of BAT sent hampers to Parliamentarians and some members of the taskforce working on the bill, adding, "we have got to do the public good by saving lives."

He said some countries like Uganda and even Ireland had banned smoking in all public places to save lives and the longer Ghana waited the greater the influence of tobacco companies.

Prof. Akosa noted that an estimated four million people die annually due to smoking and this number would increase to 10 million during the next 25 years.

He said though stopping smoking was not an easy thing to do, millions of people had tried it and had been successful. "What is needed is one's own wish dubbed with will power, some encouragement, appropriate skills and support and they will be able to make it", he added.

Prof. Akosa urged Ghanaians to support the competition to make the country free of smoking.

Ms Sophia Twum Barimah, Public Affairs Officer of WHO, who read the speech of the Country Representative, Dr Melville George said the FCTC banned advertising and sponsorship by tobacco companies. She said it also imposed warning labels that would cover 30 per cent of the packaging on smoking products and insisted that all the ingredients are listed on the label.

"It urges governments to enact strict clean indoor air, levy high taxes on tobacco and crack down cigarette smuggling" she said.

Mrs Edith Wellington, of the Health Research Unit of GHS said the competition was opened to people aged 18 and above in the Greater Accra Region for more than a year now.

Participants in the competition should have to refrain from smoking for at least four weeks, starting from May 2 to 29 this year. Registration commences in April and ends on May 1 and winners would be presented with attractive prizes.

Studies have shown that 70 to 80 per cent of smokers want to quit, while one third have made at least three serious cessation attempts and this requires specific strategies to support such people to quit.

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