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21.12.2004 General News

Boldly advertise harmful effects of Tobacco - Akosa

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Accra, Dec 21, GNA - Professor Agyemang Badu-Akosa, Director General, Ghana Health Service (GHS) on Tuesday expressed concern about the failure of the British-American Tobacco (BAT) to boldly advertise the harm cigarette smoking could cause to both users and non-users. The World Health Organization (WHO) insists that advertisements on the harmful effects of tobacco should cover between 30 per cent and 50 per cent of space on cigarette packages.

Prof Badu Akosa said instead of inscribing the dangers boldly on the packs of cigarettes as accepted and done in other developed countries, BAT rather kept the warning at the side of the packs, which was rather illusive to the unsuspecting public.

Speaking at the launch of a group named "Health Professional Against Tobacco" in Accra, Prof. Akosa said: "BAT is only here to make profit and maim lives with its products. We shall, therefore, ensure that they boldly advertise that, 'tobacco kills'.

The launching was attended by the 31 various Health Professional Associations in the country.

The aim of the launch was to provide the professionals with some information on the effects of tobacco use and inform them on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and to build commitment and support for them to agree on priorities for tobacco control.

Presenting a paper on the consequences of smoking, Dr Billy Bosu of the Narcotic Control Department, GHS, said tobacco was the second major cause of death in the world and currently responsible for the death of one in every 10 adults worldwide.

He indicated that it was also the fourth most common risk factor for disease globally and its usage costs two to seven per cent of Gross Domestic Product a year as well.

Dr Bosu warned that, if the current smoking patterns continued, it would cause some 10 million deaths each year by 2025 and, therefore, urged all health workers and non-governmental organizations to join the campaign against tobacco, particularly at public places.

Giving the tobacco situation in Ghana, Mrs Edith Wellington of the Health Research Unit, GHS, said current figures from the Ghana Global Youth Tobacco Survey indicated that 19 per cent of students used some form of tobacco; five per cent currently smoked cigarettes; and 17 per cent used other forms of tobacco.

In a speech read for Dr Melville George, the WHO Country Representative in Ghana, he said the ratification and effective implementation of the FCTC treaty by 40 countries including Ghana was a critical turn in the global tobacco epidemic.

"Now it is critical that individual nations resist the tobacco industry's efforts to influence domestic legislation and approve strong measures that effectively implement the treaty', Dr George said. The FCTC, a WHO's framework convention on tobacco control, was developed in 2003 in response to current globalisation of tobacco epidemic and it is set to become an international law by February 27 2005.

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