Lead Tobacco Control advocacy group in Ghana – Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), and its allied agencies have renewed calls for government to consider a complete and urgent ban on the use of shisha in Ghana as has been done in other countries in Africa. This according to the group is because of the increasing number of young people who are taking up shisha use as fashion at the detriment of their health.
The Ghana 2017 Global Youth Tobacco Survey in Junior High Schools shows that 8.9% of boys and 8.2% of girls currently use any form of tobacco products. 7.0% of boys and 5.3% of girls currently smoke tobacco, while 0.4% of boys and 1.7% of girls currently smoke shisha. An average shisha session lasting for about for an hour is equivalent to smoking 100 – 200 sticks of cigarettes.
Cigarette is among the cheapest products one can find on the Ghanaian market today with a stick costing only fifteen pesewas (0.15p) and a pack selling at just One cedi, fifty pesewas (Ghc1.50p); a clear indication of an attempt to lure children to initiate the habit of smoking.
Addressing journalists in Accra on Monday June 1, 2020 on the sidelines of a Mobile Van Campaign on NCDs to commemorate this year’s World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) in Ghana, Programmes Director for VALD, Labram Musah, who is also the National Coordinator for the Ghana NCD Alliance, said the government must also do well to regulate online advertisement of tobacco products which has been designed to target the youth. The groups want government to enforce Ghana’s tobacco control law that protects children from exposure and use of cigarettes.
Other organizations that support this call include the Ghana Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (GhNCDA), People Living with Non-Communicable Diseases (PLWNCD), Institute for Leadership and Development (ILaD), Media Alliance in Tobacco Control or Health (MATCOH), Community Health Support Team (CHEST), Jaishi Ghana and the youth wing of GhNCDA.
“In Ghana, great efforts have been made to control tobacco use but huge gaps still exists in efforts to protect children and the youth from exposure to tobacco use,” Musah stated, adding that “We need to put our children at heart and prioritize their health and future by increasing taxes on tobacco and other forms of tobacco products”.
WNTD is commemorated on May 31 of every year. It is a day set aside by the World Health Organization (WHO) to bring together other public health champions across the world to emphasize the achievements and progress towards a tobacco free-world.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Protecting the youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use”.
It is a campaign that seeks to debunk myths and expose devious tactics by the tobacco industry (Big Tobacco) and their allies. It also aims to provide young people with the requisite knowledge to easily detect industry manipulation and equip them with the tools to rebuff such tactics, thereby empowering young people to stand against them.
According to Musah, “As the tobacco industry is increasingly targeting young people as an emerging and vulnerable market for its addictive products, this makes it a pressing issue and a challenge for tobacco control policy makers in every country including Ghana”.
The tobacco industry has in recent times engineered strategies to target children through packaging and branding. This is evident in the recent explosion of interests in e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. One of the most significant innovations by Big Tobacco is its strategic but aggressive marketing strategies. Tobacco companies are now turning more to social media influencers to market these dangerous products.
“It is important to note that smoking tobacco increases the risk of contracting the coronavirus due to the destruction it has on the health of the human immune system including being one of the main risk factors for a number of chronic diseases including cancer, lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases and NCDs, among others,” Labram Musah noted.
By Jeorge Wilson Kingson || ghananewsonline.com.gh