Mr. Moses Anyigbah, a campaigner against tobacco smoking, has called for outright ban on the smoking of the commodity in public places.
He said “if Government or policy-makers are reluctant to ban cigarettes out-rightly, public smoking should be outlawed as the dangers associated with passive or second-hand smoking, which is increasing, is injurious to public health.”
Mr. Anyigbah made the request in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, on World No Tobacco Day 2012, to be observed on the theme: "Tobacco Industry Interference."
He appealed to health professionals to champion the campaign against the smoking of tobacco or substance abuse since it affects the respiratory system.
Mr. Anyigbah said World Health Organisation statistics estimated that 10 million people globally would die from lung cancer by 2020 with about 70 percent of the deaths coming from developing countries.
He said the commonest diseases associated with tobacco smoking included cancers of the oesophagus, hardening of arteries, larynx and infection of bladder and kidney cirrhosis, as well as brain damage and decrease in endurance.
Mr. Anyigbah said the addictive nature resulting from the euphoria and pleasant feelings associated with tobacco abuse and the long consequences of manifestation, made patrons to ignore the aftermath effects of smoking.
Mrs Emma Amuzu, in-charge of HIV/AIDS at the Hohoe Municipal Hospital, said there was direct correlation between HIV and substance abuse, including tobacco smoking.
She said that the loss of judgement and uncalculated risk associated with substance abuse usually resulted in dangers of unprotected sex.
Mrs Amuzu said tobacco is a nuisance, and policy-makers should advocate the outright ban on tobacco production and smoking as the health consequences outweigh the financial and social benefits.
Dr. Luis G. Sambo, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a message on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day 2012, said the interference by the tobacco industry and its allies in the process of developing and implementing tobacco control policies was a matter of great concern.
He said attempts to undermine the scientific evidence on the harmful effects of tobacco on health were unacceptable.
Dr. Sambo said evidence of use of tobacco, especially among girls, was on the increase and added that “Tobacco use kills nearly six million people each year, and of these, more than 600,000 are people exposed to second-hand smoke.”
“In fact, tobacco kills up to one half of all users and remains one of the leading preventable causes of death. Since tobacco has no known health benefit but on the contrary causes diseases, disability and premature death, the tobacco industry cannot be a stakeholder in improving public health.”
Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) obligates parties to the convention to protect their tobacco control policies from tobacco industry interference.
For effective tobacco control, countries are engaging other sectors to implement the WHO FCTC as part of the development agenda.
“I would like to draw attention to the urgent need for countries to take concrete steps to implement the WHO FCTC and ensure that the public is fully aware,” Dr Sambo said.
In formulating and implementing public policies, he called on decision makers to ensure that these policies were protected from the vested interests of the tobacco industry.
Dr Sambo called on the public and the private sectors, as well as the civil society in general, to assist in designing and implementing inter-sectoral programmes and strategies for tobacco control.
They also need to raise awareness on the negative impact of tobacco use on health, environment and socio-economic development, he said.
Dr Sambo said as we commemorate World No Tobacco Day, “let us strengthen our efforts to protect the health of the people by raising awareness about the negative health effects of tobacco use and the interference from the tobacco industry.”
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