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Politics of Friday, 1 June 2012

Source: GNA

Pass Public Health Bill to protect public health – VALD

The Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a non-governmental organisation, has called on Parliament to urgently pass the Public Health Bill into law.

The organisation made the call in a statement jointly issued by Mr. Issah Ali and Mr. Labram Musah during the celebration of the World No-Tobacco Day which fell on Thursday, May 31, 2012.

The statement said parliamentarians, the Ministry of Health, civil society organisations and the media should take a united stand and ensure that governments are not intimidated into delaying the implementation of the tobacco control measures.

It said it was of topmost interest for public health to ensure that the tobacco industry did not interfere in the consideration stage of Ghana’s Public Health Bill by Parliament, and should resist all attempts by them.

“Of particular concern are some think-tanks and journalists highly regarded by the society are now acting as mouthpiece of the tobacco industry,” it stressed.

The statement said “as tobacco control takes hold, the industry continues to adjust its bullying tactics so that it can advance its ultimate aim, to hook a future generation of smokers and after attacking public health policies in national courts and via bilateral agreements, they are now enticing governments into doing their dirty work at the World Trade Organisation.”

The statement said the 174 parties to the FCTC recently declared that in order to counter the industry’s attacks, parties to the Convention are determined to give priority to their right to protect public health.

“Documents of the British America Tobacco (BAT) reveal that the company knew that air filtration and ventilation systems were ineffective yet it still promoted the technology as a viable option to smoking restrictions.

“According to the documents, BAT’s interest in ventilation systems was primarily ‘to negate the need for indoor smoking bans around the world’”

The global tobacco industry is expanding its war against public health, beyond national courts into the international arena and thus governments must understand these new threats and together stand to defend their sovereignty and public health, the statement urged.

The World Health Organisation has stated that the number of smoking-related deaths worldwide has increased from 2.5 million in 1988 to five million in 2005 and to 8.5 million this year, while the global cigarette market has also expanded by 23 percent in 2012 reaching 464.4 billion dollars.**

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