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The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has fined some shops in Accra for publicly indulging in shisha trading, advertising and marketing in Ghana in clear violation of the Public Health Act of Ghana (Act 851) and the Tobacco Control Regulations (LI. 2241). This two legislations regulate tobacco use in the country.
Subsequently, the FDA has confiscated all unregistered Shisha products from those shops and caused the removal of the advertisements in front of those shops with a clear warning to close them down should they dare to operate such a business again.
The move by the FDA last week follows a tip-off by the Vision for Alternative Development (VALD); a Non-Government Organization (NGO) working on tobacco control, Non communicable Diseases (NCDs) and other health issues that seeks to ensure that the human health is upheld and protected.
VALD discovered the shops during its surveillance and monitoring of the implementation of Act 851 and LI. 2241 within the Accra metropolis. It notified the FDA of the violations of the tobacco control laws specifically on shisha and within 24 hours the Authority closed in to carry out its legal mandate.
Section 59 stipulates of the Act states that “(1) A person shall not advertise either directly or indirectly (b) advertise tobacco, a tobacco product or a tobacco related product on billboard, wall mural, public transport, transport stop or station including the airport and sea port in any advertisement of a product, or in the organization of an activity or event”. Section 61 stipulates that “(1) A person shall not promote tobacco or a tobacco product by retail sale through the mail or any other means of communication.
(2) A person shall not sell, display for sale, supply or advertise a non-tobacco product or service that contains, either on the product, or in an advertisement of the product, a writing, a picture, an image, graphics, message, or other matter that is commonly identified or associated with or is likely or intended to be identified or associated with a tobacco product, brand, or manufacturer”.
The FDA is mandated by the law to implement the Act and ensure that violators are punished accordingly.
VALD has thus commended the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) for it swift action on some shisha shops in Accra while emphasizing the need for Ghana to out rightly ban shisha.
“We once again commend the Food and Drugs Authority and urge them to remain resolute and enforce the laws that seek to protect this present and future generations from the devastating effects of tobacco use and tobacco smoke.
“We still believe that there is enough bases to ban shisha in Ghana because it has no known benefits but a destruction to mankind and a rise in non-communicable diseases which is already a burden on us all. Others such as Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda have all banned shisha so can we,” Programmes Director of VALD, Labram Musah, who is also and National Coordinator for the, Ghana NCD Alliance stated in a release copied to Ghananewsonline.com.gh.
According to him, VALD is of the opinion that there are deliberate attempts to promote shisha smoking among the youth in Ghana contrary to what the law says and that the influx of shisha in Ghana is to influence the youth who are the targets of the industry.
Ghana’s tobacco control laws clearly states that all tobacco products must have health warnings approved by the FDA. However, there are many hotels and restaurants which operate shisha lounges/joints which are opened to the public on daily basis without the approved health warnings.
“We all know that smoking is banned in all public places in Ghana except in Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs), yet shisha is found and smoked in many communities openly, posing serious health problems especially to second hand smokers including children and pregnant women.
“It is our hope that the FDA will step up their surveillance work and visit all the shisha joints, bars, restaurants, hotels etc and confiscate all the unregistered products,” the release stated.
Shisha, or water pipe, is a tobacco smoking device that employs an indirect heat source (such as lit charcoal) to slowly burn tobacco leaves while users draw smoke down through a water chamber into their mouths through hoses.
According to Doctors, there is a “misconception” that shisha is not as harmful as cigarettes, but the British Heart Foundation says an hour-long shisha session can be the equivalent of smoking more than 100 cigarettes in one session. Apart from the known diseases such as the heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and problems during pregnancy, smokers are at a high risk of infectious disease such as TB, Hepatitis etc. The World Health Organization (WHO), in a recent advisory note to regulators, revealed that smoking shisha posed grave health risks.
VALD is of the believe that most shisha/water pipe tobacco products imported into Ghana are illegally done because the law requires that all tobacco products are registered with the FDA before they are allowed entry into the country.
“Our source indicates that they are coming from neighboring countries through unapproved routes. Some of the products have no country of origin and no one knows the actual constituents of these products being excessively used by the youth and some celebrities,” VALD stated.
Source: Jeorge Wilson Kingson || ghananewsonline.com.gh