Smoke-free policy document launched to reduce exposure to second-hand smoking

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A brief research document on the adherence to Ghana’s smoke-free policy, put together by the Tobacco Control Capacity Programme (TCCP) Team, has been launched in Accra.

It is to help reduce exposure to second-hand smoking and related-deaths in the country.

It was the outcome of a study undertaken by researchers at the School of Public Health, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, led by Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo, Pro-Vice Chancellor.

Others are Dr Arti Singh and Mr Darlington Divine Logo.

The study said tobacco was a growing cause of death and diseases in sub-Saharan Africa with 77 per cent of global smoking-related deaths and 89 percent of second-hand smoke related-deaths occurring in low-and-middle-income countries.

It said reducing exposure to second-hand smoking was an important public health challenge for countries like Ghana, where smoke-free legislation could have a significant impact.

Ghana had partial smoke-free policy, which prohibits smoking in enclosed public areas including hospitality venues but allowed for designated smoking areas.

“In Ghana, there is currently a rise in tobacco use, particularly water pipe, among young people. The non-smoking population are also exposed to second-hand smoke, particularly in hospitality venues such as bars, hotels, restaurants, night clubs, and pubs,” the study said.

It said smoking amongst the youth aged 11 to 17 years continued to rise to seven per cent and close to 50 per cent of students were unaware of the harmful effects of second-hand smoking while a third of them were exposed.

It said the implementation of a comprehensive smoke-free policy could provide several health benefits leading to a substantial decline in heart diseases, morbidity and respiratory symptoms in the population.

It would also reduce cigarette consumption among smokers including shisha among the youth, the study said.

The research said the creation of 100 percent smoke-free environments was one of the most effective, science-based measures to protect the non-smoking population from the harmful effects of exposure to smoking.

“This highlights the need for the strengthening of compliance and enforcement of the current smoke-free policy in Ghana whilst there is a strong support for the banning of public smoking to help save the lives of the people,” it said.

It recommended that civil society organisations and other actors dedicated resources to engage the media in educational campaigns to inform the public/hospitality workers about the smoke-free policy and the health hazards of second-hand smoke to non-smokers.

The study urged the Food and Drugs Authority and the Ministry of Health to continually monitor compliance and enforcement of the smoke-free policy while the Government should undertake a review of the current policy under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to facilitate the adoption of comprehensive smoke-free policies.

Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director General of the Ghana Health Service who launched the June 2021 Policy Brief Document, expressed gratitude to the researchers and the sponsors for the scientific study, which, he said, would influence policy to reduce the impact of tobacco use.

Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Presidential Advisor on Health, who chaired the launch, assured participants and the programme organisers that the concerns raised in the policy document would be forwarded to the appropriate quarters for implementation.
That would ensure a smoke-free environment for the safety of the citizenry, he said.

The research was sponsored by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) with the key aims of developing country-specific studies focusing on tobacco control.

This was done through a process of co-creation with policy makers whilst investing in wider stakeholder engagements to identify pathways to impact future sustainability.

Other partners are UK academics in five universities along with research organisations in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, The Gambia, India, South Africa and Uganda.

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