Delayed regulations affecting control of tobacco use

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
Mr Labram Musah Massawudu, the Programme Director of VALD, addressing journalists at the press conference.

The delay in the introduction of regulations to serve as guidelines for the tobacco industry is adversely affecting the fight to control the use of tobacco products in the country.

Section 76 of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act851) stipulates that the Minister of Health (MOH), in consultation with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and by a legislative instrument, should provide guidelines that will regulate the tobacco industry and its related activities.

Such regulations are supposed to lead to the registration of tobacco products, the registration and licensing of participants in the tobacco and tobacco-related trade.

The regulations are also to determine the quantities of hazardous constituents in tobacco products, the text and form of information required on the packet of a tobacco product and also compel manufacturers and importers of tobacco products to submit returns, reports and other information on their activities to the FDA.

Effect of delay

According to the Executive Director of Valid Alternative Development (VALD), a non-governmental organisation, Mr Issah Ali, the delay in the introduction of the regulations was likely to make the tobacco control measures contained in the Act ineffective.

Mr Ali was addressing a cross section of the media at a news conference in Accra yesterday.

The event organised by VALD was to solicit ideas from media personnel on how best to impress upon policy makers to introduce the regulations as stipulated by the act in order to effectively implement its provisions.

Mr Ali said the act did not give details about how the tobacco industry would be regulated. “Such regulations are, therefore, supposed to be introduced to augment other sections of the act to effectively control the use of tobacco in the country,” he added.

He explained that the regulations would enable the mandated regulators to implement the act to know how to effectively apply the sanctions stipulated in the act.

“It will also allow manufacturers, importers and other stakeholders in the tobacco industry to know the activities that they are allowed to engage in and what they are prohibited to undertake,” he explained.

The tobacco control measures are part of the Public Health Act (Act 851) passed by Parliament in 2012.

They aim to regulate the tobacco industry and the use of tobacco products in order to promote the health of the public.

The Programme Director of VALD, Mr Labram Musah Massawudu, reiterated the need for the MOH to expedite action on the introduction of the regulations, stating that as a party to the Framework Convention on Tobacco, Ghana ought to take administrative, legislative and any other means to reduce the hazards associated with smoking.