Ghana Completes Ratification Process For The Illicit Trade In Tobacco Products Protocol

Ghana continues to make significant strides in tobacco control in line with its obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

The strong political commitment to tobacco control is evidenced by the inclusion of tobacco-specific provisions in the Public Health Act, 2012 and the passage of the Tobacco Control Regulations, 2016 (L.I. 2247).

In addition to the WHO FCTC, Ghana has also acceded to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

This Protocol, described as a global solution to a global problem, was developed in response to the growing illicit trade in tobacco products, often across borders.

Illicit trade poses a serious threat to public health as it contributes to increased access to cheaper tobacco products, thus fueling the tobacco epidemic, undermining tobacco control policies, and eroding progress made towards tobacco cessation.

The overarching objective of the Protocol is the elimination of all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products through a comprehensive package of measures including combating illicit trade through the prevention of illicit trade and promotion of law enforcement activities whilst providing the legal basis for international cooperation.

After an extensive process involving a series of stakeholder consultations spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Ghana has finally joined the list of countries to have finalized the ratification of the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products Protocol.

The legislative instrument was successfully deposited at the Treaty Section of the United Nations Secretariat on 22nd October 2021.

Thus, the Protocol enters into full force for Ghana on 20th January 2022 in accordance with the provisions of the Protocol.

The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products is a significant milestone in the history of tobacco control.

It contains a full range of measures to combat illicit trade through the prevention of illicit trade and promotion of law enforcement whilst providing the legal basis for international cooperation.

The Protocol also aims to secure the supply chain of tobacco products, through licensing, due diligence and record-keeping.

This would provide the establishment of a global tracking and tracing system that would allow governments to effectively follow up tobacco products from the point of production to the first point of sale.

Ghana has already initiated measures to jumpstart the implementation of the Protocol. Presently, the FDA has a presence at all border posts in the country and works closely with other border control agencies to intercept and seize all illicit tobacco products.

Furthermore, the Authority in accordance with its legislative mandate oversees the registration of tobacco companies, tobacco imports, sales, and tobacco product monitoring.

Specifically, various requirements have been set to enhance the easy identification of licit tobacco products on the market. For example, tobacco product labelling intended for the Ghanaian market should include, ‘FOR SALE IN GHANA ONLY’, emission statements and pictorial health warnings.

Despite the above measures to curb illicit trade, there have been setbacks in the control of the tobacco product supply chain and records of tobacco product smuggling.

The legislative recommendations offered by the Illicit Trade Protocol present a unique operational advantage in advancing our successes as a country in the fight against tobacco and counteracting the infiltration of the illicit tobacco trade in Ghana.

Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith