The Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) of the Food and Drugs Authority, Delese Darko says she is confident that the ‘Commit To Quit’ campaign will help create a healthier environment that is conducive to quitting tobacco use.
According to her, the campaign will advocate for stronger tobacco cessation policies, increase access to cessation services, raise awareness of tobacco industry tactics, and empower tobacco users to make successful quit attempts through the initiatives.
Speaking at the World No Tobacco Day celebration, she said “In the light of this, the FDA and its partner agencies intend to embark on a year-long campaign aimed at supporting people who plan to quit tobacco use through the creation of communities of quitters”
Madam Darko stressed that to manage the challenge in accessing the rather few rehabilitation centers available in the country, she has been reliably informed that the WHO has set up a Digital Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco and has partnered with tech companies like Facebook, WhatsApp to give free access to digital counseling, raise awareness and support tobacco users to quit.
She added that the FDA aims to advance this cause by enabling access to cessation services through referrals and empowering tobacco users with the requisite information motivating them to quit.
“Also, the institution will continually use its routine public education in schools, marketplaces and transport terminals as a platform to address specific challenges encountered by smokers in their quest to quit smoking”
It is emerging that Globally, tobacco kills more than 8 million people annually.
More than 7 million of these deaths are from direct tobacco use and around 1.2 million are due to non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke.
Tobacco products are known to contain 7,000 chemicals; hundreds of which are known to be toxic while the use of nicotine and tobacco products, therefore, increases the risk of cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.
According to the Tobacco Atlas Ghana, it is estimated that over eight hundred and seven thousand, six hundred (807,600) people smoke cigarettes and other tobacco products in Ghana.
Seventy-five (75) men also die every week through smoking and using tobacco and tobacco products in Ghana.
Madam Darko said “Currently, the Ghanaian youth are moving away from the traditional tobacco use to the electronic tobacco due to its appeal in the form of flavoring and the myth that they are safer alternatives. These include Shisha and electronic or e-cigarette which are equally dangerous to human health”
She noted that it is worrying to note that the new trend of tobacco use is higher among young female adults than in males, according to the Ghana Youth Tobacco Survey,2017 (0.4% of boys, and 1.7% of girls currently smoked shisha).
“I want to therefore reiterate that shisha has no haven. Did you know that an hour’s session of shisha amounts to smoking 100 to 200 sticks of cigarettes? It really saddens my heart to see well-known people in society recklessly smoke shisha on social media platforms just to be in the trends What do we think we are teaching our future generation? As role models, we all need to support and play our role to fight this global tobacco disease pandemic” she added.
The C.E.O further noted that the FDA is doing all it can within its mandate to fight the menace, but it cannot do it alone adding that it needs everybody on board.
On his part, the Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu said “As the world commemorates the No Tobacco Day, the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) together with other civil organizations join in the global call to urge users of tobacco and tobacco products in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic to ‘Commit to Quit‘ as the theme of this year’s celebrations”
He added that nicotine and other toxic chemicals increase the risk of one having cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.
The Minister further noted that considering the severe health effects and its impacts on the world’s population, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other global partners will continue to raise awareness of tobacco use's harmful effects.
He reminded the public that people who want to quit smoking can access help in health facilities across the country.
Below are copies of releases:
Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith