By Maimuna Sey-Jawo
The Gambia is ready to begin enforcing laws regulating tobacco use.
This was disclosed to journalists at a press briefing last week, organised by Raid-The Gambia in collaboration with Ministry of Health and the WHO.
They said the TC Regulation 2019 has been finalised, signed and gazzeted under the laws of The Gambia.
It will serve as a tool to support and strengthen the enforcement and implementation of the Tobacco Control Act 2016.
Effective 1 October, the Tobacco Control Act of 2016 will come into force, officials said. They warned against violating the Act.
The director of Health Promotion and Education, Modou Njai said anyone found smoking in public places will face the law. He said one should stay 10 meters away from the person sitting next to him or her when smoking.
He said the Act will be reproduced in local languages, with a view to reaching wider
audience and raising public awareness of it.
“ We need to fight our enemy, and that is tobacco. Children under 18 years of age should not be sent by parents to buy cigarette. Those parents need to know that,” he stated.
He urged the media to play its role to spread the word and sensitise the public.
“We want to reach the entire country, including the rural areas, youth leaders, women groups, the elderly, traditional groups, VDCs, and key actors, including governors, among others, to sensitise them about the laws.”
Momodou Gassama, WHO, said the media sensitising the public will help protect future generations from the harmful effects and dangers of tobacco use.
“Some years ago, we were saying 6 million people were dying annually of cigarette smoking globally, but currently 8 million people are dying every year,” he rued.
Sefoe Singhatey, Raid The Gambia, said the Act was enacted in December 2016, but there was no enforcement because regulations were not ready.
“Now that the regulations are ready, the country is on track to implement and enforce this comprehensive tobacco control.”