Ban on public smoking takes effect tomorrow
Thursday, September 30, 2010
The Office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) in collaboration with sister security agencies such as the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) National Intelligence Agency (NIA) together with stakeholders are set to domesticate the country’s anti- public smoking act to the letter, effective October 1st 2010.
This development was revealed at a press briefing held yesterday at the conference hall of the Police headquarters in Banjul. The briefing, which was chaired by the Police public relations officer, Inspector Sulayman Secka, was organised by the Office of the Inspector General of Police, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Raid-the Gambia Office and the World Health Organization office in Banjul.
The Gambia anti-public smoking act was enacted by the National Assembly on the 25th of July 1998 and assented to by the Gambian leader on the 23rd of September 1998. The act made among other provisions prohibits smoking of tobacco in public places and other smoking related matters. It also contains a detailed interpretation of what is meant by public designated places for smoking, what is meant by tobacco and its impact on both smokers and non-smokers.
Yerro Bah, Health Tobacco Focal person, Tobacco Control Unit at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, warned both smokers and non-smokers to curb the habit, describing tobacco smoking as one of the leading causes of death in the globe. According to the health officer, statistics from the World Health Organisation has shown that 500,000 people died of tobacco smoking annually across the world.
He said: "Tobacco accounts for 500,000 deaths across the world. Tobacco smoking damages from head to toe. Smoking tobacco is the leading cause of death in the world. Unfortunately here in The Gambia, we did not have the exact figure of death caused by tobacco smoking, but we know that a handsome number people died of tobacco smoking in the country. Our position is to stop smoking in public places, if possible to stop smoking in general. The anti public smoking act will take effect on the 1st of October 2010."
He continued: "Any tobacco coming into the Gambia must be labeled otherwise the product will not enter in the country. Unlabelled products will be stopped at the seaport and grounded there. All those importing tobacco product into the country must comply with this rule, otherwise their products will not enter and they will be grounded at the entry point. We have no problem with tobaccos already in the market before the 1st of October 2010, but when they are depleted any product coming in must be labelled."
Sambujang Conteh, director Raid-the Gambia, gave a detailed explanation of the operations of his charitable development agency, with specific reference to youth development programmes. The Raid director spoke on the dangers of smoking to the health of the individual and its impact on socio-economic development of the country. According to him, smoking accounts for significant number of poverty in the world, especially in developing countries like The Gambia. He drew the attention of the audience to his wealth of experience in the world of community work with reference to reports on the dangers of smoking by the World Health Organisation and other leading NGOs in the areas of health.
For his part, Momodou Gassama, Communication Officer of WHO Banjul office, also described smoking as dangerous. He assured of his institution’s commitment towards having a world free of tobacco smoking, especially in public places. He also spoke at length about the need to domesticate the law without delay, considering the growing number smokers in the country.
Author: by Sanna Jawara & Omar Wally