A study by researchers from the School of Public Health at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (SPH-KNUST), has revealed that about 53.5% of tobacco on the Ghanaian market is illegal.
The research was conducted on the theme ‘Tobacco Control Capacity Programme Dissemination and Engagement’ during the second wave of the pandemic at the country’s border towns. The study focused on the dissemination and engagement of tobacco control capacity programs.
According to Dr. Arti Singh, a research fellow of the Tobacco Control Capacity Program and Senior Lecturer at the School of Public Health, KNUST, notes that close to half of illicit tobacco products originate from Togo and Nigeria. Again, close to half of retailers are not aware of what constitutes illicit tobacco and a third of the retailers are not aware of tobacco control laws on illicit products.
Dr. Singh blamed the phenomenon on lack of data, porous borders, and low awareness of stakeholders on the illicit tobacco market in Ghana and recommended the need for an effective tracking and tracing system, strengthening of borders and more research on this area. She also called on the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) and the government to expedite action on the ratification of the tobacco protocols.
On the other hand, the Chief Regulatory Officer and Head of the Tobacco and Substance Abuse Department of the FDA, Dr. (Mrs) Olivia Agyekumwaa Boateng, disclosed that plans have been put in place to see the implementations and enforcement of illegal tobacco protocol, which will be incorporated into the United Nations treaties.
She advised the youth to stay away from tobacco because smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis.