Dr. Baffour-Awuah (4th from right), acting Director, Technical Coordination Directorate, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olivia A. Boateng (4th from left), WHO Focal Point on Tobacco-Ghana and Director, Tobacco and Substance of Abuse Department, Food and Drugs Authority, C/Supt. David Selom Hukportie (3rd from left), Director, Drug Law Enforcement Unit of the CID Headquarters, and other dignitaries launching the National Tobacco Control Strategy. Picture: EDNA SALVO-KOTEY
Dr. Baffour-Awuah (4th from right), acting Director, Technical Coordination Directorate, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olivia A. Boateng (4th from left), WHO Focal Point on Tobacco-Ghana and Director, Tobacco and Substance of Abuse Department, Food and Drugs Authority, C/Supt. David Selom Hukportie (3rd from left), Director, Drug Law Enforcement Unit of the CID Headquarters, and other dignitaries launching the National Tobacco Control Strategy. Picture: EDNA SALVO-KOTEY

FDA steps up tobacco control with new 5-year strategy

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has launched a set of measures that details a systematic, critical, timely intervention and approach to the rapidly growing epidemic of tobacco use across the country. 

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Dubbed; “The National Tobacco Control Strategy (NTCS),” it seeks to ensure a total eradication and subsequent prevention of tobacco use and exposure through a comprehensive adoption and implementation of effective measures.

Even though the country has one of the lowest global prevalence of adult cigarette smoking (2.2 per cent), more than 6,700 people are killed by tobacco-related diseases every year.

Also, more than 5,000 children (10-14 years old) and 491,000 adults (15+ years old) continue to use tobacco each day in Ghana.

Although cigarette smoking remains the most common form of tobacco inhalation, other forms of tobacco are also existent.

These include pipe smoking (shisha), chewing, sniffing, smokeless tobacco use among young people.

Strategy

The strategy which spans 2023 to 2028, will therefore reduce the demand and supply of tobacco products while stepping up technical cooperation, research and innovative financing and prevention of interference from the industry.

It was launched last Tuesday in Accra and it doubled as a platform for training all stakeholders on the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

This is an international treaty with the objective of stopping all forms of illegal trade in tobacco products through a package of measures to be taken by countries acting in cooperation with one another.

Among the various stakeholders who attended the launch and training were officials from state departments, security agencies, international partners, academia and civil society, all of whom contributed to the drafting of the strategy.

It would do this by strengthening tobacco control legislation, enhancing the existing track and traceability functionality, strengthening enforcement of the ban on sale of single stick cigarettes and developing a national register for all tobacco product points of sale, among several other measures.

In a speech read on his behalf, a Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FDA, Seth Seaneke, said the NTCS aimed to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco use and exposure.

He also said the training would harness the collective expertise and efforts of all concerned parties, fostering a consultative and collaborative environment which aligned their strategies with global priorities and leverage the support available to them. 

Commitment, SDGs

The acting Director of Technical Coordination Directorate of the MOH, Dr Baffour-Awuah, described the launch as the climax of extensive collaboration, research and commitment by various stakeholders, experts and civil society to guide the nation in combatting the devastating effects of tobacco on health and the economy.

“This strategy outlines a comprehensive roadmap towards effectively implementing measures that align with the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

It's a document that reflects our nation's firm commitment to a healthier, tobacco-free future,” he stressed.

A Programmes Officer of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) of WHO, Dr Joana Ansong, said beyond health, tobacco control was a proven approach to reduce poverty and inequalities, strengthen and expand the economy and advance sustainable development more broadly.

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