The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Honourable Omar Sey, has stated that with strong multi-sectoral team and the efforts of the media, The Gambia can effectively implement the promotion of plain packaging of tobacco products.
He added that his Ministry is in full support of the plain packaging and therefore counts on the continued support and collaboration from the media and the multisectoral team. He was speaking yesterday during a day-long media briefing on World No Tobacco Day, held at the Ministry in Banjul.
The theme for this year’s celebration advocates for the introduction of “Plain (Standardised) packaging” of tobacco products which was first introduced by Australia in 2012 and recently in the UK and France.
Dr. Omar Sey further said The Gambia will soon join other countries that have already passed laws to implement plain packaging, adding that, it is time to act. As countries seek to embrace the plain packaging of tobacco products, he noted, tobacco companies all over the world are on the fight against the initiative with massive misinformation campaigns.
“Plain packaging of tobacco products restricts or prohibits use of logos, colours, brand images and promotional information. It is part of an integrated approach to tobacco control that helps to reduce attractiveness of tobacco packaging,” he added.
Minister Sey disclosed that The Gambia has recently won two of the five awards for the World No Tobacco Day 2016 throughout the African region.
The Executive Director of RAID, The Gambia, Sambujang Conteh noted that this day is set aside by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to reflect on the past achievements, efforts and bottlenecks and also pave a way forward in protecting the present and future generation from risks associated with tobacco use.
“The Gambia has tremendous achievements in tobacco control but, we have a long way to go as we need a legal framework to pave us the way,” he affirmed.
He added that the stakeholders would soon table a bill before lawmakers for the control of tobacco use in the country. He said tobacco being one of the four risk factors of Non-communicable Diseases (NCSs) kills nearly six million people annually worldwide, noting that The Gambia is not an exception.
Bakary Gassama of the WHO thanked The Gambia Government for the wonderful strive towards the area of tobacco control in the country.
He said health is something that cannot be done by the government alone and thus called for the support of the general public and journalists to continue raising awareness on the dangers of tobacco.
The Programme Manager of NCDs, Omar Badjie, said nowadays there are many youth engaged in smoking cigarette, especially young boys and girls. He, therefore, called on the media to continue sensitising the general public on the dangers of smoking, especially in public places.
by Arfang MS Camara