17/12/2013

Tobacco sale booms at public toilets

Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) into sensitisation and capacity building on tobacco control and health issues, has expressed worry over the increasing rate of sale of tobacco products at public toilets in the country.

VALD particularly bemoaned this alarming situation, stressing that it poses ‘high’ risks to the health of people, especially [non-smokers] who patronise public places of convenience. Cafe Creme cigars .

Against this backdrop, the NGO called on the governing NDC party to, as matter of urgency, pass into law the Tobacco Control Bill (TCB) which is currently on the table of the Attorney- General’s Department (AGD).

The Executive Director of VALD, Mr. Issah Ali, made the call in an exclusive interview with Today just after he finished addressing health journalists in Accra last Monday at a one-day workshop on the topic: “Tobacco Industry Threats to Public Health.”

According to him, VALD was concerned about the United Nations (UN) report which revealed that in Ghana 14.3 per cent of JHS students have tried smoking cigarettes; 19.5 per cent currently use tobacco products, and; 4.9 per cent currently smoke cigarette. Colts cigarillos.

He went on to say that investigations conducted by VALD recently at public toilets in Accra also revealed that the usage of tobacco products is still on the ascendancy.

This situation, he blamed, on supervisors at various public toilet facilities.

According to him, these ‘so-called supervisors’ were the ‘worst culprits,’ openly selling packs of cigarettes in tandem with their money collection duties.

The visibly worried Issah Ali said the users therefore purchase these packs of tobacco and eventually dissipate them at the various washrooms of public toilets, indicating that, “this angers many users of these public toilets who lament the health risks this poses to them as secondary smokers.”

“All these dangerous activities can be eliminated if government passes into law the Tobacco Control Bill,” the executive director of VALD affirmed.

For his part, the Programmes Director for VALD, Labram Musah Massawudu, also urged the Attorney-General to present the Tobacco Control Bill to President John Dramani Mahama for endorsement and passage into law.

He said the NDC administration should stand strong in the face of ongoing interferences and opposition from the tobacco industry players and support the adoption of guidelines of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) at its upcoming conference in Uruguay in mid-November this year.

Mr. Massawudu said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has projected that the treaty can help save 200 million lives by 2050 if fully implemented globally.

“Today we send the message that the Ghanaian people will not tolerate the tobacco industry obstructing our laws, those of our neighbours, and countries across the globe and we stand in solidarity with the Ministry of Health (MOH) in refusing to compromise public health with tobacco profit,” he said.

He said the British American Tobacco (BAT) corporate social responsibility programmes and signing of memorandum of understanding with government agencies and other actions were clear violation of FCTC treaty.

“Ghana has already advanced in the process of getting a strong Tobacco Control Bill and that civil society would resist any weak tobacco law,” he added.

The FCTC was established in 2005 and it has currently protected more than 87 per cent of the world’s population in 171 countries against the effects of tobacco.

It is aimed at saving present and future generations from the hazardous effects of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

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