To combat the country’s rising tobacco consumption, the government has developed a five-year National Tobacco Control Strategy (NTCS).
The NTCS is in line with the national tobacco control policy directive as enshrined in the Public Health Act (851).
It aims to secure absolute eradication and subsequent prevention of product usage.
The plan was put together by the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Development Programme and advocate policymakers on tobacco control.
It would also help to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products across the country.
Speaking at the launch last week, Dr Baffour Awuah, Acting Director, Technical Coordination Directorate of the Ministry of Health, stated that there was an increase in cardiovascular diseases due to the increased number of tobacco users in the country.
The high blood pressure and health diseases in Ghana’s health facilities, particularly among youth, are attributed to the widespread smoking of “shisha,” a lifestyle-based habit, he said.
“The strategy we are launching today is the climax of extensive collaboration, research, and commitment by various stakeholders, experts, and civil society. Its purpose is to guide us in combating the devastating effects of tobacco use, both in terms of health and the economy.
“It aims to ensure effective coordination among agencies involved in tobacco control, setting clear goals, and adopting strategic timelines,” Dr Awuah said.
Dr. Awuah emphasized the importance of stakeholder engagement, ideas exchange, and valuable insights in the effective implementation of a strategy, stating that their collaboration and dedication are crucial for transforming the document into tangible action.
Dr Olivia Boateng, the FDA’s Director for Tobacco and Substance Abuse, criticized the illicit trade in tobacco products, stating it made tobacco products more accessible at lower prices and undermined progress made in combating tobacco smoking. She argued that the trade amplified the tobacco epidemic and led to adverse health consequences.
She revealed that as part of the NCTS implementation, stakeholders would be trained on the protocol to eliminate illegal tobacco trafficking in the country.
According to her, the Economic and Organised Crime Organisation, the Ghana Immigration Service, the Ghana Police Service, staff from the FDA, and the Ghana Revenue Authority are part of the institutions that would be trained to help deal with the influx of tobacco into the country.