NGO appeals for strict anti-tobacco laws

A non-governmental organization, Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), has called on the Food and Drugs Authority to work towards protecting minors in the country from tobacco usage.

VALD says that the failure to address the issue is likely to increase drug addicts.

Its Programmes Director,  Labram Musah made the call on the back of recent appeals to regulate the use of painkiller, Tramadol over concerns of its abuse by the youth.

He said the sale of single sticks of cigarettes had become problematic since it was cheaper than a full pack of cigarettes and, consequently, made tobacco more affordable to the youth and other individuals with limited resources.

He noted that due to the exposure of children to cigarettes on sale at stands where they purchase biscuits and sweets, the children are quickly lured to start using a harmful product.

Speaking at a news conference, he noted that children in areas such as Nima, Maamobi, Kokomlemle and some parts of Osu community in Accra where VALD conducted a survey were at risk of smoking at a very tender age.

The Programmes Director said: “One of the measures to aid the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals is the tax on tobacco products; it will serve as the revenue stream for government and also discourage smoking and initiation.”

Mr Musah urged the MoH and FDA and all relevant authorities to monitor the British America Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris International (PMI) to prevent them from their activities of supplying free promotional materials to tobacco retailers to create recognition of their brands and to encourage the sale of their products.

He said the authorities should enforce the ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and this should include any advertising or promotional materials related to single sticks.

Musah said the enforcement of the ban would be in line with Article 13 and 16 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the national tobacco control laws and regulations.

“The authorities must also ensure that cigarettes are not sold close to educational institutions, hospitals, children playing grounds and places where children are cared for while ensuring that the aspects of the tobacco control laws and regulations protecting children are strictly adhered to.”

He said the newest trend had been the introduction of shisha/waterpipe tobacco and that the youth accepted, which was far dangerous than the traditional cigarette and contributed to diseases such as, Tuberculosis and hepatitis, among others.

By: Philip Nii Lartey/ with files from GNA