Thursday, September 13, 2012
The DPS at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare was indeed right when he told the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) needs assessment mission to The Gambia that the country has taken giant steps, and registered success, in the fight against tobacco control and prevention.
It is certain that the ban on advertisement of tobacco products, public smoking and the prohibition of tobacco sale to minors are bearing fruit. However, despite this success, tobacco is still heavily consumed in our society particularly among youngsters. Hence, the need to once more reiterate our urge for people to distance themselves from tobacco usage so that the country can produce healthy people who can create a healthy society through constructive development.
It is obvious that all conscious human beings, even those addicted to tobacco, are aware that tobacco usage and smoking are very dangerous, leading to a wide variety of diseases, cancer and death. Health statistics indicate that more than five million children living today will die prematurely because of a decision they will make as adolescents -the decision to use tobacco and smoke cigarettes. Studies also indicate that non-smokers are also adversely affected by tobacco smoke. What is even more alarming is the fact that more than three million young people under 18 smoke half a billion cigarettes each year, and that more than half of them consider themselves dependent upon cigarettes.
aware that people smoke for different reasons. Some are urged to do so by
friends while others do it in order to appear more grown up, at ease, or
attractive. Some claim smoking reduces tension and pressure and allows them to
relax, while others smoke to reduce feelings of hunger to aid in weight
control. Some people say it gives them something to do with their hands. Many
say they have a desire for the smell and taste of smoke and yet others believe
that although cigarette smoking affects other people, it will not affect them.
thoughts are misleading. It is important for smokers to realise that nearly
4,000 substances have been identified in tobacco smoke; among them are 43
chemicals labeled as carcinogenic (capable of producing cancer), a potentially
lethal gas (carbon monoxide), and an addictive psychoactive drug (nicotine).
When inhaling, the smoker draws a combination of hot gases and particles into
the lungs, where harmful substances are absorbed into the bloodstream.
Individuals who smoke but who do not inhale, or who use smokeless tobacco,
absorb dangerous ingredients into the bloodstream via the mucous lining of the
mouth or the digestive system. It is not surprising that a multitude of
illnesses and causes of premature death are linked to smoking, including
cancer, heart and respiratory diseases.
It is these serious health implications that motivated the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to ban public smoking. Such a move meant to curtail public smoking was a significant step that enabled majority of our people, particularly women and children, to breathe healthy air for a healthy life, thus promoting our public health requirements. Though, despite the banning of public smoking, it has been realised that there has been little or no enforcement of the banning, and up till now smokers continue to pollute public places.
Ministry of Health and all other stakeholders should therefore revisit the
anti-public smoking rule by stepping up enforcement mechanisms so that those
who are found wanting can be prosecuted. We should always remember that the
country is a youthful country; attempts to discourage the consumption of
tobacco substances are in the best interest of sustainable development.
We also wish to implore on our smokers particularly the youths to endeavour to find better alternatives to smoking and tobacco usage; the onus is on them to safeguard their health so that collectively we can produce a healthy Gambia.
Author: Daily Observer