A legislative Instrument (LI) to control the use of Tobacco in Ghana, has been launched by the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service at a ceremony to commemorate the 2017 World No-Tobacco Day in Accra.
The LI 2247, which was enacted in January, would now provide the legal backing for the regulation and prevention of the use of tobacco among the populace, assist those who were into the use of the drug to discontinue it, and also protect non users from getting exposed to it.
Mrs Tina Mensah, the Deputy Health Minister, who launched the LI on Wednesday, said the Ministry had tasked itself to strengthen health polices especially those related to tobacco, and would ensure that they were included among the key policies on its agenda.
The Ministry, she said, would also put in place a proper monitoring mechanism to observe the progress being made in the control of the use of such a harmful drug.
She said the Day, which was on the theme: “Tobacco-a threat to development,” was to raise awareness on health and additional risks and dangers associated with the use and exposure to the smoke from the drug.
Mrs Mensah said the Ministry’s decision to control tobacco use was in pursuance of the Sustainable Development Goal Three, which talked about ensuring healthy life and promoting the well-being of individuals worldwide.
According to her tobacco was a harmful substance which did not only have health implications on its victims, but also put posed a heavy economic burden on the government and the nation as a whole, and also led to the elimination of the working class of a country.
She explained that the target group of tobacco producing industries were mostly young men and women in the developing countries especially Africa, saying available statistics showed that one in 20 of every junior high school students used tobacco, hence the need to raise awareness on the harmful use of the substance.
Mrs Delese A Darko, the Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) said her outfit was committed to create a “Tobacco Free Society” and support individuals, communities and government to take up the responsibility of preventing the use of the drug in Ghana hence the creation of the LI.
Throwing more light on the LI, Madam Darko said the LI 2247 required that individuals and industries who would want to go into the sale of the tobacco secured the legal documentation from the FDA before they could commence business.
The LI, she said, also prohibited the advertisement of tobacco or related substance, and barred industries from providing any forms of sponsorships for programmes, especially those involving tertiary students.
She said the document spelled out how packaging, labelling and health warnings of tobacco substances should be carried out, as well as the places where these substances could be sold.
Madam Darko said non-compliance with the rule, would attract a 750 penalty units, which was equivalent to GH?9,000.00.
Aside this regulation the FDA would continue to sensitise the public on the substance as well as meet and train target groups such as hotels, schools, and transport service stations, she said.
She argued that every individual had the right to a smoke-free environment, hence the FDA would improve collaboration with stakeholders including the MOH, GHS, World Health Organisation and the Vision for Alternative Development to help in the fight against Tobacco use.