World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year, with majority of tobacco related deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries. This was revealed in a speech read on behalf of the Minister of Health, by Dr. Baffour Awuah at the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Ghana Stakeholders meeting on building capacity for applied research to reduce tobacco-related harm in low and middle-income countries.
The School of Public Health of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science (KNUST hosted the meeting at the Great Hall Conference Room under the theme, ‘Tackling the Tobacco Menace in Ghana’.
Dr. Awuah mentioned that the Global Challenges Research Fund for Tobacco Control Capacity Programme aims to bring down smoking rates in less well-off countries by conducting research to inform tobacco taxation, tackle the illicit trade in tobacco and also target tobacco companies’ efforts to undermine governments’ attempts to reduce smoking.
He mentioned that part of significant progress made in reducing tobacco-related harm include the passage of Public Health Act of 2012, which is the primary control legislation and Tobacco Control Regulations (L. I. 2247) 2017, introduction of pictorial health warning on cigarette packs, public smoking ban and training of law enforcement agencies on implementation and enforcement of the tobacco control regulations.
Dr. Awuah indicated that the meeting provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved in tobacco control and what needs to be done.
Giving a background of GCRF, the Dean of the School of Public Health, Professor Owusu Dabo, said the GCRF is a 3.4 million Euros programme of training and research funded by the Research Council of United Kingdom (UK) of general aid, to support the development of capacities of tobacco control experts to bring down the effects of tobacco menace. He added that, GCRF involves UK academics along with research organisations in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, India, South Africa and Uganda.
Professor Dabo stated that, the overall aim of the programme is to improve the research capacity in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) to conduct high quality studies that will generate evidence on how to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with tobacco use and advance key development priorities.
The Head of Tobacco and Substances of Abuse Department, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Mrs. Olivia A. Boateng took the stakeholders through the regulations of Tobacco in Ghana. She said the vision of FDA is to create a tobacco free society and to foster individual and government responsibility to prevent tobacco use.
In conclusion, she stated that FDA is committed to using the smoke-free provisions in the Tobacco Control Measures and Tobacco Regulations to reduce social acceptability of tobacco use, promote cessation, and help users to quit tobacco use thus, improving the quality of life of Ghanaians.