World No Tobacco Day: Government commits to protecting children from interference from Tobacco Industry

The Deputy Minister for Health Alexander Akwasi Aquah says the government will protect children from interference from the tobacco industry with strict enforcement of ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Speaking at an event to mark the observation of the World Tobacco Day in Accra, the Deputy Minister expressed concerns about the targeting of children by the tobacco industry through deceptive marketing tactics.

‘Children are vulnerable, they are lured by colorful packaging, misleading flavors, and

manipulative marketing campaigns. We cannot, and will not, stand by for the tobacco industry to prey on their curiosity in their attempt to create a new generation of addicted customers,’ he said.

Mr Aquah said Ghana would ensure comprehensive public education campaign to heighten awareness about the detrimental effects of tobacco use and equip communities with the knowledge to discern the deceptive tactics employed by the tobacco industry.

‘By empowering Ghanaians to become vocal advo
cates for tobacco control, we can safeguard the well-being of future generations and shield them from the predatory practices of tobacco companies,’ he said.

Tobacco is a significant threat to health and sustainable development. Tobacco causes premature death and preventable disease that results in high health costs and economic losses, widens socioeconomic inequalities, and impedes progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Dr Delese Mini Darko, the Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Authority, in a speech read on her behalf, said tobacco was one of the foremost perpetrators of preventable deaths worldwide, claiming over eight million lives annually.

She said tobacco usage was a public health crisis that spared no one, particularly children, with its insidious marketing strategies preying on the youth, ensnaring them in a web of addiction and suffering.

‘From clever product designs to pervasive marketing endeavors, they’ve set their sights on a new genera
tion of tobacco users: Our youth. They infiltrate our schools, communities, and even our social media platforms, all with the aim of cultivating a new legion of smokers,’ she said.

Dr Darko said just one hour of shisha use was equivalent to smoking about 200 cigarettes, underscoring its heightened risks.

‘The Vision for Alternative Development’ a nin-governmental organisation, in a statement to observe the Day, stressed the need for Ghana to pay attention to nicotine addiction and E-cigarettes.

It said the highly addictive nature of nicotine, particularly in e-cigarettes and vapes, posed grave threats to young people.

It said the products, often marketed as safer alternatives, had no proven public health benefits.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns against their use, especially among youth.

The NGO said it would continue to strongly advocate ban of the products, stating that the current regulatory inconsistency where the Ghana Revenue Authority taxed e-cigarettes while the FDA confiscated
them highlighted the urgent need for clear, unified policies of the product.

Research on ‘An investment case for Tobacco Control in Ghana’ shows that more than 6,700 Ghanaians die every year due to tobacco-related illness, accounting for three per cent of all deaths in the country.

According to the research in 2019, tobacco use in Ghana resulted in around 668 million Ghana cedis (GHC) in economic losses, an equivalent of 0.2 percent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

It includes GHC172 million in direct health-care expenditures to treat tobacco-related illness, tobacco-attributable mortality valued at GHC 371 million, and GHC 126 million in reduced workplace productivity from absenteeism and presenteeism.

The 2024 World No Tobacco Day, was observed on the theme: ‘Protecting Children from Tobacco Industry Interference’.

Source: Ghana News Agency