#Article (Archive)

Pursuing Cessation of Smoking in Public

Mar 18, 2009, 7:25 AM

In retrospect it is important to recall the joint initiative of the Department of Health and Social Welfare and the WHO Country office a month ago for the prohibition of smoking in public places. Subsequently, there have been NO SMOKING signs in prominent places at the Medical Research Centre in Fajara and their other Centres around the country, which are strictly observed, and also to some extent at the RVTH in Banjul. As we commend these two institutions for their illustrious lead, we still must urge other institutions to follow suit in such a vital matter of public concern.

We must do all in our power to continue the fight against smoking in The Gambia. This dangerous habit brings no benefit to our society; it only causes disease and drains money from people who can ill afford it. Note should also be taken that non-smokers are also adversely exposed and at risk from smokers who smoke in public.

This is an important point. The youth of our nation are vulnerable to becoming addicts if they are not properly sensitized on the deadly effects of smoking. Many people forget, because smoking is legal, that it is in fact a drug. Many studies have shown that nicotine, the active drug, is in fact more addictive than heroin so the best way to stop smoking is never to start. We can educate our young people through schools but also show them good example by not smoking as adults. We also need the help of vendors and shop owners who must refrain from selling cigarettes to those who are under the age of 18.

The act has clearly stated that a person who contravenes a provision of this act, commits an offence and is liable on conviction, to a fine not exceeding D500 and not less than D200 or a term of imprisonment of not more than three months or to the fine and imprisonment.

We must see this act stringently enforced so as to send a strong message to those people who would flout it. It will also serve as a deterrent to those who might start the habit. But above all we appeal to smokers themselves to lend their cooperation to the Act by avoiding on their own accord to smoke in public. Smokers alone can solve the problem if they are so minded. Yes, Together we can stamp out this terrible scourge.