Stakeholders demand a National Action Plan to Combat Tobacco use in Ghana

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As Ghana begins plans for the drafting of a National Action Plan on tobacco control in the country, stakeholders have reaffirmed their commitments to a comprehensive multi-sectoral action plan that would ensure the effective implementation of the Tobacco Control Measures as enshrined in Ghana’s Public Health Act (Act 851).

The Public Health Act was passed by Parliament in August 2012 and assented to by the President on October 9 of the same year. Part Six of the Act deals comprehensively with how tobacco should be controlled in Ghana. Among others it bans smoking in public places, tobacco advertising, and sale of tobacco to children as well as tobacco sponsorship and related matters.

Early this year Parliament again adopted a Legislative Instrument (LI) that will ensure that the law is effectively implemented to the latter. The Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) is empowered by the law to enforce provisions of the Act.

At a High Level Roundtable Meeting on Tobacco Control and National Development held in Accra on Wednesday, at the instance of Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), ostensibly to deliberate on the way forward, stakeholders noted the urgent need for a national action plan on Tobacco Control; one that would prioritize tobacco control and combat the tobacco epidemic so as to achieve the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), among others. The meeting was on theme ““Tobacco, a threat to development” in line with this year’s general theme for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day.

The stakeholders included Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI), Ministry of Finance (MOF), Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Ghana Police Service (GPS), Ghana Education Service (GES)/School Health Education Programme (SHEP), and the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

It also include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National SDGs Secretariat, Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), Office of the National Chief Imam (ONCI), Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health, Coalition of NGOs in Tobacco Control (CNTC) and the Media Alliance in Tobacco Control (MATCO) as well as VALD.

Among others, they called for the Strengthening of national tobacco control and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) policies, legislation and resources, in addition to reorienting health systems to address prevention of NCDs, and incorporation of tobacco control into all existing levels of government.

They also want further efforts to increase tobacco taxes in accordance with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (2015).

“Increase in tobacco taxes is the most direct and effective strategy to reduce tobacco use and can also provide sustainable domestic funding for tobacco control,” the meeting agreed in a communique.

“Support mechanisms to educate and offer treatment support and cessation services; mobilize and allocate resources for tobacco control implementation; strengthen mechanisms for monitoring and countering tobacco industry interference; and also promote partnerships to invest in building the capacity of different stakeholders to advocate support, and monitor progress on tobacco control as part of SDG implementation efforts,” the communique further noted.

In an interview with the Executive Director of VALD, Mr Issah Ali, he emphasized the need for increased efforts to reduced tobacco use so as to allow for sustainable development.

“We know that reducing tobacco use is critical to achieving all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, as it will improve individual health and prosperity, advance economic productivity, and protect the planet”.

The meeting sought to draw a link between tobacco and development, to make tobacco a national development issue and at the same time as revenue stream for financing health and other related issues in Ghana. It was by the kind sponsorship of the Norwegian Cancer Society and the Framework Convention Alliance (FCTA).

Source: Jeorge Wilson Kingson ||

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