Oct 27, 2008, 6:00 AM
Local authorities in the Upper River Region were recently sensitised on the control of tobacco in the country. The meeting held at the governor's bantaba in Mansajang and was attended by district chiefs, councilors and others from across the region.
The one-day forum was centered on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the 1998 prohibition of smoking (public places) Act of The Gambia.
In declaring the meeting open, Mr. MS Kah, deputy governor of the region, described the forum as very important. He advised the participants to take the meeting seriously. He thanked the Department of State for Health, WHO and Raid The Gambia for the initiative. Mr. Yerro Bah, of Focal Point Tobacco Control, said that the fight against tobacco deserves a collective effort. He said that the 1998 Act prohibits smoking in public places and they are now about to enforce it. He called for an increment of tax on tobacco. Samboujang Conteh, director Raid The Gambia, informed the meeting that as local authorities they should lead by example by not smoking at public places. Conteh recalled various activities carried out by his NGO and partners in campaigning for tobacco control in the country. Mr. Momodou Gassama from the WHO said that the fight against tobacco is a very big battle and thus called on local authorities to be prepared for it.
According to him, there are 4,000 chemicals in a stick cigarette. He also dilated on the dangers of tobacco smoking for both the smokers themselves and non-smokers alike. He said that offenders could be fine up to D5000, given 3 months imprisonment or both. Other speakers included Seikuna Sanyang regional health officer and Njaka Khan from Community Development chaired the occasion.