Last Sunday 31st March 2009, The Gambia joined the rest of the world in commemorating "World No Tobacco Day".
Tobacco is said to be the only consumer product that kills when used exactly as directed by the manufacturer.
Described as the leading preventable cause of deaths in the world, it is very important that its demand, supply, distribution and consumption be strictly controlled to reduce its impact on our society.
It is time for stakeholders to honour their commitments to tobacco by initiating dialogue on tobacco in the country, and step up advocacy programmes for its control and possible reduction of its consumption in the country.
Scientific findings have openly established that smoking tobacco in any form causes up to 90 percent of all lung cancers and is a significant risk factor for strokes and fatal heart attacks.
Especially people who smoke have downplayed awareness campaign on the seriousness of smoking and its fatal consequences. They often consider smoking as common and proudly claim that they have been smoking for better part of their lives and nothing happens to them.
It is also said that second-hand harms everyone who is exposed to it and has serious and often fatal health consequences, such as infant death syndrome. Smokeless tobacco is also highly addictive and causes cancer of the mouth, neck, oesophagus and pancreas, as well as many oral diseases, including disability.
Many of those who smoke, as well as those who entertain smoking in their presence do not know the implications of being a passive recipient of tobacco smoke.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director, through advertising and promotional campaigns, including the use of carefully crafted package designs, the tobacco industry continues to divert attention from deadly effects of its products.
The Anti-Public Smoking Act enacted into law should be seen to be enforced to the fullest as stated in the Act.
The Bill has been enacted into law on 25th July 1998, and assented to by the President since 23rd September 1998.
Edrisa Samba Sallah, the former National Assembly Member for Sami Constituency will ever be remembered as the person who presented this very important Bill before the National Assembly as a private bill.