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Opinions of Sunday, 31 July 2011

Columnist: Agbenyikey, Wil

Ghana Parliament Discusses Tobacco Bill

Finally, the long awaited tobacco bill sailed through the 1st reading on the floor of parliament in Ghana today. The bill was however sent to the Health Select Committee for final amendments. It is tipped to pass into law when Ghana parliament reconvenes on October 25th 2011.

Provisions of the tobacco bill include a total ban on smoking in indoor and outdoor public places, total ban on tobacco advertisements, promotion and sponsorships. Also included are the prohibition of people under 21yrs to purchase or sell tobacco products, and the provisions of pictorial warnings covering a minimum of 70% of wraps and packs of tobacco products.

Smokefreeghana.com would take this opportunity to beseech all advocates, the media and the general public to increase their advocacy and redirect their campaign for this noble course to the parliamentarians. Our parliamentarians are on recess now and it is critical that we ask them to fully support this tobacco bill. A bill that would prevent this silent epidemic that contributes significantly to the cardiovascular and cancer deaths in both smokers and nonsmokers in Ghana.

Credit should be given to the current minister of health. In his speech that launched smokefreeghana.com as a national tobacco cessation website on the World No Tobacco Day, 2011 at Bolgatanga, he stressed the need to pass this bill and disclosed to have it tabled in parliament before the end of 2011.

“This is a huge step in the right direction. We are really down to the wire now and every tom, dick and harry should get involved in this. Once this bill is enacted, the legislation will make a significant reduction in smoking prevalence and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in our beloved country, and Ghana would be the coolest nonsmoking elite country!” Wil Agbenyikey, Policy and Grassroots Coordinator of smokefreeghana.com reacted after hearing the news.

Please take a moment and sign the “I Support Smoke-free Ghana” petition to parliament on Facebook.