Accra, May 31, GNA - Health professionals on Tuesday called on government and parliament to pass a legislation to ban smoking in public places in the country.
The professionals said the non availability of any such law had paved the way for the youth to use the deadly product, tobacco everywhere in Ghana, especially at night clubs, fun fares, beaches, parties, restaurants and theatres.
This was contained in a release issued at a meeting in Accra and read by Mr. Edward Ampoffu, Chairman of Public Health Committee of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana.
The meeting, which was under the theme: "Health Professionals Against Tobacco", was part of activities marking World No Tobacco Day, which falls on May 31 each year.
Mr Ampoffu said a school base survey of students in JSS1, JSS2, JSS3 in Ghana conducted in 2000 indicated that out of 1,917 students 14.3 per cent had in fact smoked cigarettes before.
Tobacco related diseases were increasing, especially in African countries which had the highest increase rate of tobacco use amongst developing countries with the the Region's tobacco consumption rate was increasing by 4.3 per cent per year.
"Tobacco is dangerous and if the current use trend continued it is estimated that by 2030, 10 million people will die from tobacco-related diseases and seven million of these people would be from developing countries with half a billion people at risk of dying by tobacco products."
He said it was worrying to note that even though Ghana was a member of the first 40 contracting parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which was unanimously adopted by the 56th World Health Assembly in May 2003 there was still no legislation banning smoking in the country.
He said the fight against tobacco smoking in Ghana dates back to 1989 when government made a pronouncement of a ban on smoking in public places and there was a further directive in 1991 against smoking on the premises of any Ministry of Health facility in the country.
"Today health professionals work in congenial milieu devoid of tobacco smoke, but it will be selfish on their part to be unconcerned with the impact of tobacco on the lives of the general public and themselves since they do not stay in their facilities for twenty four hours daily.
Mr Ampoffu who called on all to redouble their efforts to fight this long standing menace said health professionals would engage in programmes such as out reach programmes in schools, advocacy tools to influence policy makers to ban the use of tobacco in public places, prescribe advertisements on tobacco in the media and use of bill boards. Other initiatives include periodic release of statements on the harmful effects of tobacco to the general public, drawing up smoking cessation for people already addicted to tobacco products. Ms. Angela E Adjaye, a pharmacist said studies have shown that while 70 to 80 per cent of smokers want to quit, only one-third have attempted to quit and one in 1000 does quit.
She said there were over 4,000 chemical, including 200 known deadly poisons in tobacco smoke including, carbon monoxide, ammonia gas and pyridine, nicotine, carbon dioxide and tar, a poison that causes cell damage and death to tissues.
Ms Adjaye said one third of young people who were just experimenting end up being addicted by the time they are 20 years, adding that addiction to cigarette could serve as a major gateway to other forms of drugs addiction such as marijuana, cocaine and heroine in future.