Law enforcement agencies across the country have been urged to enforce existing laws against smoking, especially laws against smoking in public places, to stem the harmful tide of tobacco abuse.
“Smoking in public is now the order of the day and many seem to have forgotten the dangers of this practice. It’s time the laws were enforced properly.”
Mr. Emmanuel Fordjour, Chief Economist at the Ministry of Finance, made the call during the opening of the 2022 annual training on the tobacco control program for sub-recipients in Accra on Monday.
It was organized by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), the specialized agency of the African Union (AU) for capacity building, with the support of the Gates Foundation on the theme “Enhancing skills in governance and leadership.
The participants came from African countries, including Benin, Botswana, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritania, Ghana and Senegal.
The program will provide participants with the opportunity to reflect and share ideas on issues related to governance and the need to control tobacco use in Africa, especially among young people.
According to Mr. Fordjour, Ghana was an active member in the development of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and also became one of the first countries to Africa to ban tobacco advertising by issuing a policy directive to that effect in 1982.
He noted that the government also passed the Public Health Act (851) in 2012 to take concrete steps to reduce tobacco consumption in Ghana, adding that the provision of the act included banning smoking in places. audiences and tobacco advertising, among others.
Mr Fordjour said “these bold steps were then followed with the passage of smoke-free regulations which came into force on January 4, 2017”.
Despite the sustained enactment of such legal tools to combat the effects of smoking, he said the country’s efforts have recently been threatened by the use of social media to combat smoking.
He lamented that some celebrities often use tobacco products, such as cigars and shisha and post them on social media, out of sheer ignorance of the dangers of tobacco use or for monetary gain.
Mr. Fordjour was of the opinion that such acts of celebrities posed a serious threat to the health of young people, who sometimes blindly followed these artists and imitated their acts because they saw them as role models.
“Celebrities posting images of themselves smoking tobacco have a negative impact on their followers and this act is not unique to Ghana alone so it is important that we all come together to devise strategies to stay ahead of this negative trend and that calls for collaboration and sharing of experiences,” he added.
In his presentation, ACBF Director of Programs, Prof. Sylvain Boko reiterated that leaders across the continent must not let up in their efforts to ensure a drastic drop in tobacco consumption on the continent.
He said research has shown the devastating impact of tobacco abuse on the health of consumers, and even smokers, stressing that now is the time for Africa to step up tobacco control.