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MRC research recommends gov’t to strengthen smoke-free regulations

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By Aisha Tamba

The Medical Research Council The Gambia and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s recent findings on tobacco control have indicated that despite the existing smoke-free regulations, urban residents are still not aware of these regulations.

The research findings were disseminated to stakeholders on Monday in Bakau, and it assessed the level and predictors of exposure to second-hand smoking in public places and compliance with smoke-free regulations in The Gambia.

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According to the findings, the Ministry of Health should continue to strengthen its advocacy and sensitisation programs to ensure smoke-free regulations are fully implemented. “Some population subgroups are at a higher risk of exposure and could be targeted by interventions and settings where these subgroups are exposed, should be targeted by enforcement efforts.”

The report also says smoking in public places is prohibited in The Gambia but there is no information on the level of exposure to second-hand smoking among adolescents and adults 15–64 years.

The survey targeted a total of 4547 participants (15–64 years) from households within the Farafenni HDSS who were interviewed at their homes but only 3343 were included in the analysis. Factors associated with exposure to second-hand smoke in public places were assessed by three different multivariable regression models. Results: Exposure to tobacco smoke in public places was high (66.1%), and higher among men (79.9%) than women (58.7%). “Besides being male, less education, lower household income, urban residence and not aware of smoke-free regulations were strongly associated with exposure to second-hand smoke. Conclusion: Despite existing smoke-free regulations, reported exposure to second-hand smoke remains high in public places in The Gambia,” the research revealed.

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