Accra, Oct. 24, GNA – The Programme Director of Vision for Alternative Development, a non-government organisation has noted that the passage of the Tobacco Control Bill is the effective means of preventing the marketing and usage of the product.
Mr Labram Musah Massawudu said to minimise the social cost of tobacco use government must eliminate the activities of the tobacco industry through the passing of the Bill to reduce lung, oral and neck cancers, heart diseases and poverty among smokers.
Mr Massawudu made the observation in an address at a day’s journalists’ briefing and education on tobacco industry interferences, threats to public health and World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on Monday in Accra.
He commended the Ministry of Health for showing enthusiasm and commitment in the fight against the tobacco industry by taking steps in implementing the FCTC through the directives of the ministry while the Tobacco Control Bill passes through the due processes.
Mr Massawudu said Ghanaians stand to gain in poverty reduction and health improvement if government domesticates the FCTC through the Public Health Bill which was passed by Parliament on July 11, this year and awaiting presidential assent.
In November 29, 2004 Ghana became the 39th country to ratify the FCTC to; “adopt and implement effective legislative, executive, administrative and/or other measures and cooperate, as appropriate, with other parties in developing appropriate policies for preventing and reducing tobacco consumption, nicotine addiction and exposure to tobacco smoke”.
Mr Massawudu said the tobacco industry has filed lawsuits challenging various public health measures in a number of countries in a clear attempt to undermine the pursuit of effective policies.
The Programme Director said the tobacco industry is expanding its war against public health, beyond national courts and into the international arena and therefore governments must understand these new threats, and stand together to defend their sovereignty.
“As tobacco control takes hold, the industry continues to adjust its bullying tactics so that it can advance its ultimate aim, to hook a future generation of smokers.
“After attacking public health policies in national courts and via bilateral agreements, they are now enticing governments into doing their dirty work at the World Trade Organisation,” Mr Massawudu said.
He said the effective means of minimising tobacco use is to eliminate the activities of the tobacco industry by imposing tax increment on tobacco products, introduction of pictorial health warnings on packs and comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
According to the WHO tobacco smoking related deaths worldwide has increased from five million in 2005 to 8.5 million this year while the global cigarette market has also expanded by 23 per cent in 2012 reaching 464.4 billion dollars.
Some of the topics discussed were tobacco industry efforts to undermine Public Health and industry combining revenues to infiltrate and undermine treaty’s success and intimidation through lawsuits by tobacco companies.
Mr Massawudu asked the media to show interest and create awareness on key provisions of the Public Health Bill especially on the tobacco control measures.