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General News Thu, 10 Jun 2004

MPs call for ban on tobacco smoking in public

Accra, June 10, GNA - Members of Parliament (MPs) on Thursday called for a legislation to ban the smoking of tobacco in public place, to ensure the safety of non-smokers that were likely to inhale the smoke non-deliberately.

The MPs made the call as part of their contribution to the fight against the smoking of tobacco and its health and socio-economic consequences, as proposed by the theme for this year's World No Tobacco Day: - "Tobacco and Poverty, a Vicious Cycle".

In a statement to mark the day, Mr Kwasi Akomea Kyeremateng, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, noted that the World No Tobacco Day fell on May 31, 2004, when Parliament was on recess. He noted that the Day was significant in that it was a day set aside to remind the peoples of the world about the dangers inherent in tobacco and its products and the harm it caused to smokers and non-smokers alike.

Mr Kyeremateng said available statistics indicated that judging by the current pattern of tobacco use, by 2030 the number of smokers would rise to 1.6 billion from the 1.2 billion in 2000 and the number of death from tobacco smoking would increase to 10 million, from 4.9 million within the same period.

"The aggressive promotion by the tobacco industry and the permissive environment that make tobacco products readily available and affordable, play a major role in inducing young people to take up to tobacco smoking," he said.

He suggested that the Ministry of Health came up with specific measures such as effective infrastructure for national tobacco control programme, expedite action on the draft tobacco bill, work with other stakeholders in education and training to curb the use of tobacco with the view to saving the youth.

Mr Kosi Kedem, NDC - Hohoe South, said there should be a law to ensure that those who smoked for pleasure, relaxation and even for medical reasons, did so in their closets and spared non-smokers of the harmful effects of in-haling second-hand smoke from smokers.

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He noted that governments everywhere, made lots of money from the tobacco industry, adding that, that was not enough reason to sacrifice the lives of innocent non-smokers by allowing smokers to have their way in public places.

Mr Edward Salia, NDC - Jirapa, said the Ministry of Health and its partners needed to do more to educate people about the harmful effects of the use of tobacco, adding that while education went on, efforts should also be made to ensure that the tobacco companies channelled their resources into other profit-making ventures.

Mr Alex Korankye, NPP - Asante Akim South, noted that tobacco companies often kicked against control measures with the economic argument that the industry yielded revenue for the State and provided jobs for citizens, adding, however, that such an argument was an exaggeration, since most smokers ended up spending their income on the treatment of disease resulting from smoking.

Alhaji Mohamed Abah, NDC - Chereponi, said tobacco growing itself degraded the environment and threatened food security, adding that drastic measures should be put in place to stop people, especially the youth from smoking.

Mr Moses Dani Baah, Deputy Minister of Health, said smoking of cigarette and even Indian hemp (wee), was gaining grounds in the rural areas, adding that measures needed to be taken to avert that trend.

Source: GNA
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