About 75 men in Ghana die every week from tobacco related diseases according to data from the Tobacco Atlas, Ghana.
The data also revealed that, more than 425,200 men, 69,200 women and 2,700 boys smoke cigarettes each day in Ghana, making the trend a dire public health threat.
However, the Ghana Youth Tobacco Survey, 2017 showed that the prevalence of shisha use is higher in girls (1.7%) than boys (1.6%).
These were disclosed during the virtual commemoration of World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) in Ghana on the theme, “Protecting the youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use.”
Convened by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), the Day created an opportunity to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use, second-hand exposure to tobacco smoke, and to discourage the use of tobacco in any form.
Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, Delesi Darko, addressing the meeting said tobacco products are known to contain 7,000 chemicals; hundreds of which are known to be toxic and about 69 are carcinogenic, examples are Benzene, Arsenic, Cadmuim, Carbon monoxide and Formaldehyde.
“Tobacco use is responsible for 25% of all cancer deaths globally. Use of nicotine and tobacco products increases the risk of cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease,” she said.
She said the Authority in collaboration with NUGS has initiated an aggressive anti- shisha campaign to dispel the notion that the tobacco product was less harmful.
She also noted that despite the presenting statistics, Ghana has made significant strides in tobacco control in line with the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act No. 851 of 2012) and the Tobacco Control Regulations, 2016 (L.I. 2247), such as, the continual enforcement of tobacco control measures and the implementation of pictorial health warnings.
She said in order to totally eliminate the threat of tobacco use, Ghana continues to join member states and the WHO to advance in the fight against tobacco use.
Between 2000 and 2016, current tobacco smoking prevalence rates declined from 27% to 20%. However, the pace of action to reduce tobacco demand and related death and disease is lagging behind global and national commitments to reduce tobacco use by 30% by 2025.
The World Health Organization maintains that if the trend continues, the world will achieve only 22% reduction by 2025 (WHO).
“Every year, 146 000 Africans die from tobacco-related diseases. Illness related to tobacco use accounts for 3.5% of annual total health expenditure in the Region,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti during the virtual meeting.
She said to support Member States to counter tobacco industry interference, ‘we will continue working with partners to debunk myths, expose manipulation tactics and strengthen healthy policies.’
Dr Moeti used the platform to call on all young people to join the fight against the tobacco epidemic.
“I encourage youth groups to build a movement for a tobacco-free generation. I urge celebrities and influencers to reject all forms of tobacco industry sponsorship.I call upon parents, caregivers and teachers to educate children on the harms of tobacco products use and advocate for 100% smoke-free public places and banning all forms of tobacco advertising,” she added.