By Oumie Bojang
Omar Badjie, program manager of the Non-Communicable Disease control unit, has said the unit has been all out in the field to implement the Tobacco Control Act 2016 and Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 because the harmful effects of tobacco usage in this country are huge. He said it contributes to so many non-communicable diseases like hypertension, cancer and diabetes etc.
This, he said, has been on the increase as 34% of deaths are related to it in one way or the other. “Tobacco the only legal product we use that does serious harm to our bodies”.
The project started in 2021 and its being extended to 2023 with joint enforcement from the police, public health officers and NEA.
Badjie said the main emphasis of this project is on three areas namely smoke free zones, meaning no one should smoke in the presence of others, there should be a distance of 100 meters between you and the people. Enforcement of graphic health warnings on the packets of cigarettes, this will enable non-lettered people to understand the health risks involved in smoking cigarettes, packets, grosses and boxes should not be displayed even in shops: the person buying should be the only one to see it. Thirdly all tobacco advertisements and sponsorships will be banned countrywide, they should not be advertised in any media print or electronic.
He added that anyone caught exposing children and minors to cigarettes: making them sell any tobacco related products will face a fine.
“The use of shisha is being monitored as well as many young people take it as a pride. Unknown to many it has dangerous chemicals more than cigarette. A single stick of manufactured cigarette contains 7000 different chemicals, if anyone is exposed to Shisha for an hour they’ve smoked 5 packets of cigarettes which equals 100 sticks,” he said.
The dangers of cigarette, he said, do not stop at the person smoking, it transcends to anyone that inhales the smoke, exposing them to dangers related to tobacco.