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General News of Thursday, 31 May 2007

Source: GNA

World no tobacco day launched in Tema

Tema, May 31, GNA- This year's world no tobacco day was launched in Tema with a call on governments to implement the ban on smoking to ensure a 100 percent smoke free environment.

Speakers at the launching ceremony, which was observed under the theme "smoke free environment" noted that simply enacting a law against smoking was not enough but rather its implementation to achieve the desired results in order to allow people breath in clean air. The speakers, Mr Samuel Owusu-Agyei, Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Ken Sagoe, Human Resource Director of the Ghana Health Service and Dr Joaquim Saweka, representative of the Country Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) were of the same opinion that the laws against tobacco should be strictly implemented.

They said surveys indicated that smoking of tobacco irrespective of where it is being smoked affects the health of non- smokers also through inhalation.

Launching the yearlong programme, the Deputy Minister of Health noted that those who inhale second hand smoke, normally referred to as passive smokers, suffer many of the diseases of the active smokers. He said second-hand smoke has been casually associated with a wide range of life threatening health effects including respiratory diseases as well as eye, nasal, irritation, headaches, sore throat and cough among others.

Mr Owusu-Agyei said the call for countries to step up measures that would lead to the creation of 100 percent smoke-free environments are the only proven way to adequately protect the health of the people from devastating effects of second hand tobacco smoke. He described as unfortunate, people being exposed to second hand smoke daily in the homes, at workplaces, restaurants and everywhere and called for a stop to the practice to ensure good health. The Deputy Health Minister said several countries have achieved health benefits after implementing laws on smoking and called on all, stakeholders, religious bodies, media, non governmental organisations and individuals to support government to make the environment free of smoking.

To achieve total implementation of the laws on smoking, he said the Health Ministry in collaboration with other stakeholders is supporting a bill for passage by parliament.

Mr Owusu-Agyei said seminars and training sessions are being organised for owners of restaurants, public and work places on the harmful effects of smoking to enable them to stop people from smoking on their premises. He commended the Ghana Private Road Transport Union, Ghana Airways, Ghana Education Service among others for complying with the directives by stopping smoking at their premises and urged others to emulate them. In speech read for him, Dr Saweka, WHO representative said about 10 million people may die each year of tobacco related diseases and that by 2020, about 650 million may be killed if the current smoking patterns continue.

He said seventy percent of these deaths occur in the developing countries and urged the governments to make conscious efforts to ensure 100 percent free smoking environment, saying that, at least 200,000 workers die each year from secondary exposure at workplaces. He said scientific studies have shown that exposure to tobacco smoke causes serious and deadly illness among adults and children. "The evidence leave no room for doubt and that 100 percent smoke free is the only solution for guaranteeing effective protection against all the damaging effects of second hand smoke exposure". Dr Saweka urged governments to consider the situation as very serious and ban smoking.

In a welcome address, the Human Resource Director of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Ken Sagoe, noted that smokers want to quit the practice but cannot stop because of addiction caused by the nicotine in all tobacco products.

He said the right of people to breathe free air takes precedence over the right of smokers to endanger the health of others. The Chief of Tema, Nii Adjei Kraku the second, who chaired the function called on the media to give enough time to the education on the adverse effects of smoking as done to politics. 31 May 07