General News of Saturday, 15 July 2006

Source: GNA

GHS to develop Tobacco Control Plan

Washington, July 15, GNA - The Ghana Health Service (GHS) will soon develop a National Tobacco Control Action Plan to intensify campaign against tobacco use.

It will also prepare an Implementation Strategy for the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to meet some of the objectives, which include protecting present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.

Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, GHS Director-General, announced this on Friday when he addressed the 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR (RPT) OR Health in Washington under the theme: "Building Capacity for a Tobacco-free World".

The Conference has brought together stakeholders from all over the world the deliberate on the menace of tobacco and tobacco products. Targets in smoking are now focussing on the youth in the developing countries, according to experts.

Speaking on; "The Way Forward in Ghana's Tobacco Control Programme", Prof. Akosa said in addition to these, the GHS had outlined a number of projects and activities to reach its audience in the national campaign.

These include a documentary on tobacco control with case studies from the chest clinic and personal testimonies and the establishment of counselling units for smokers.

It will also train teachers, develop a comprehensive education programmes as well as the produce "No Smoking" signs for owners/managers of public places in collaboration with Ghana Tourist Board.

"We are also working with MPs to pass the Tobacco Control Bill and finalize a draft manual for counsellors for tobacco cessation and continue with public education on the harmful effects of tobacco.

He told the delegates about how Ghana had used local research data to intensify advocacy and influence tobacco control policy development, raise awareness on effects of tobacco and strengthen network of groups towards tobacco control.

It was also working at the creation of tobacco smoke-free public places such as smoking restrictions on all domestic flights, public vehicles health facility premises and educational institutions.

Prof Akosa said national statistics indicated that nine per cent of Ghanaian men currently smoked cigarettes while two per cent used other tobacco products.

Prevalence is high in men living in the northern sector where the Northern Region has 17.7 per cent, Upper East 15.3 per cent and Upper West 11.4 per cent.

Prof. Akosa also discussed a recent survey on smoking in public places and said he was happy that 59.6 per cent of owners of hotels, bars and drinking spots in the Greater Accra Region declared their willingness to make their places tobacco/smoke-free.

Making a poster presentation of the survey which was conducted in 2004, Ms Sophia Twum-Barima, Information Officer of the Accra Office of the WHO, said it was to test their knowledge on smoking and reaction to the quest to make their facilities smoke free.

She said though some of the respondents (49 per cent) said they already had anti-smoking policies at their facilities, most of them were not enforced.

She said those who responded favourably to the enforcement of anti-smoking policies were trained in October last year with the collaboration of the Ghana Tourist Board and provided with anti-smoking materials.

The Tobacco Atlas launched as part of the conference

programmes says tobacco is the only consumer product proved

to kill more than half its regular users with more than half of those

deaths occurring between ages 30 and 69. It says more than 300 million needless deaths would be

averted if adult cigarette consumption is reduced by just 50 per

cent worldwide in the next 50 years.