Children at risk of exposure to tobacco

Ghana on Tuesday joined the world to mark the 2015 International No Tobacco Day with a caution that children are gradually being endangered by their exposure to tobacco substances.

Statistics from the Ghana Health Service’s Disease Control and Prevention Department indicate that currently about 3.6 per cent of Junior High Schools pupils smoke cigarette; 12.8 per cent use some form of tobacco products and a further 14 per cent had smoked before.

On regional prevalence of tobacco usage among adults, the statistics indicate that the Upper West Region recorded the highest of 6.2 per cent; whilst the Central Region recorded the lowest of 0.5 per cent.

The others are: Upper East- 5.7 per cent; Northern – 4.9 per cent; Brong Ahafo – 4.4 per cent; Volta – 3.3 per cent; Ashanti – 2.7 per cent; Greater Accra – 2.6 per cent; Eastern – 1.9 per cent; and Western – 1.3 per cent.

The National Tobacco smoking statistics was made known at an event to mark the 2015 International No Tobacco Day in Accra.

According to the data, women in six regions were gradually nurturing the smoking habit.

The 2015 International No Tobacco Day Commemoration was on the general theme: “Stop Illicit trade of Tobacco products”.

In Ghana, it was also used to solicit the support of media practitioners to join the campaign against tobacco usage in the country.

For female population statistics, Eastern Region recorded the highest of 0.5 per cent; Northern – 0.4; Central – 0.3, while the Upper East; Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions recorded 0.2 per cent, respectively.

According to the statistics, the male in the Upper West Region were the highest smokers in the country with 12.9 per cent; followed by Upper East with 11.9; Brong Ahafo – 8.9; Volta – 6.8; Greater Accra and Ashanti – 5.3 respectively; Eastern – 3.5; Western – 2.8; and Central – 0.8.

Speaking at the event, Dr Kyei Faried, Deputy Director and Head of Ghana Health Service’s Disease Control and Prevention Department, explained that: six per cent of men currently smoked cigarette with an average male use of three to five cigarette sticks per day.

He noted that the WHO 2012 benchmark put mortality among male and female, who were 30 years and above at 1,944, thus accounting for two per cent of all deaths.

According to him, Tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, of which more than five million are users and ex-users; whilst more than 600,000 are non-smokers exposed to second hand smoke.

Dr Faried said Tobacco caused one-fifth of all global cancer deaths, noting that current trends showed that tobacco would cause eight million deaths annually by 2030, with 70 per cent of such deaths occurring in developing countries.

“Tobacco is the only legal product that if used according to the manufacturer’s specification, will kill half of its users by age 65 years,” he stated.

He also warned against the usage of Tobacco candies and electronic cigarettes explaining that, “e-cigarette or electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) is a harmful battery-powered nicotine-containing vaporizer that feels like tobacco smoking”.

Dr Faried, however, stated that: “Around the world, we are seeing great progress being made on curbing tobacco use leading to improved health, decreased suffering and millions of lives saved.”

According to him, governments were making great strides in reducing tobacco use by implementing science-based policies, and implementing interventions including 100 per cent smoke-free indoor public places (PH Law Act 851)

Other measures include a total ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, health warnings, and imposition of higher tobacco taxes such as increasing the advalorem taxation on tobacco from 150 per cent to 175 per cent in the 2015 budget.

Mr Labram Musah, the Programmes Director of Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a non-governmental organisation, urged the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to monitor the implementation of the excise tax increase on tobacco products.

Mr Musah said VALD had gathered that cigarettes in Ghana could sell for as low as GH₵1.20 per pack while it sold for $6.50 in other countries. GNA

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