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Statement On World No-Tobacco Day 2013
 
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31-May-2013  
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Since 1987, May 31st every year is commemorated as World No-Tobacco Day, a day set aside by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its collaborating partners to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and to advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption globally.

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death globally and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide. It is estimated that over 6 million people die yearly from tobacco use and over 90% of these tobacco related deaths occur in developing countries, especially sub-Saharan Africa (WHO).

The ultimate goal of World No Tobacco Day is to contribute to protect present and future generations not only from these devastating health consequences, but also against the social, environmental and economic scourges of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

Ghana’s effort in tobacco control over the years has yielded positive results but much is still to be done. Through administrative directives Ghana has long banned tobacco advertising, forcing the Tobacco Industry to use other cunning ways to advertise their products.

In many countries point of sale retail settings have become increasingly important for the tobacco industry. Same tobacco companies offer free samples of their products, other gifts (e.g. keyrings, T-shirts, hats, cigarette lighters), redeemable coupons or discounted products to young people, whether they are smokers or not. They also use entertainment products like movies because they have enormous reach and influence population culture.

Sponsorship is a common form of promotion by which tobacco companies provide financial or other support for events (such as sporting or cultural events) and/or activities for individuals or groups (athletes or their teams/clubs, artists or their organizations), usually in exchange for publicity. Sometimes companies sponsor educational facilities.

The tobacco companies frequently engage in so-called “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) activities. This is a special form of sponsorship of research, charitable activities, educational programmes, disaster relief, simple community projects and many other “socially acceptable” activities, to give the public the false idea that tobacco companies are socially acceptable economic contributors and good corporate citizens.

To address the challenges in dealing with the tobacco epidemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its collaborators developed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first and only international treaty on public health. Ghana is among the countries that have ratified the convention and has the obligation to implement the relevant articles.

Article 13 of the FCTC requires each Party in accordance with its constitution or constitutional principles, undertake a comprehensive ban of all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

The Theme for the 2013 World No-Tobacco day is “ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship”.

Through years of intensive education in Ghana,and working with faith-based organizations, the media and other stakeholders awareness on the dangers in the use of tobacco is high.

A cursory look at the streets shows that public smoking is not as prevalent as it used to be in the past. The fact that 9% of adults in Ghana smoke cigarette suggest that the problem is far from over. The Tobacco Industry continues to sponsor annual beach parties where free drinks and free cigarettes are provided and advertising on items used in households as matches.

We want to use the occasion of the 2013 WNTD to acknowledge the contribution of religious organizations, which read pastoral letters and admonished their followers to quit smoking or not to get into it.

Similarly FM and TV stationsand the print media have made significant contribution in carrying out programmes to inform the public of the health hazards of tobacco use and deserve commendation.

As we commemorate the 2013 WNTD we call on everyone to take action to free themselves from the manipulation of the tobacco industry and to check all influences through tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

The ministry and its collaborating partners will ensure complete implementation of a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, as called for in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and I accordance with the Tobacco Control Measures in the public Health Act.

We urge all the agencies of the Ministry of Health, the Media, Ghana Education Service, the Civil Society and all other stakeholders to counter any interference from the tobacco industry as we implement a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

We call on the civil society to denounce all types of interference from the tobacco industry, help to educate the public about manipulation through the tobacco industry’s marketing strategies and its attempts to interfere with the implementation of a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

We call on all Ghanaians to free themselves from tobacco industry manipulation by learning about the cunning and unscrupulous marketing techniques used by the industry to trap people into using tobacco.
 
 
 
Source: Sherry Ayittey, Health Minister/Ghana
 
 

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