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Stamp Out Smoking

Feb 6, 2009, 5:20 AM

It is very positive to see the Department of Health and Social Welfare, in collaboration with the World Health Organization country office, organizing the recently held one-day meeting for policy makers on the prohibition of smoking in public places act.

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.

Delivering his welcoming address at the occasion, the mayor of Kanifing Municipal Council, Yankuba Colley, said tobacco is a global problem which mainly affects youths and the aged noting that the sensitization of the act is long overdue.

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 solicitor general, Dr. Henry Carrol, stated recently that the act was enacted by the National Assembly, on the 23rd of September 1998 and makes smoking illegal in government premises, public places and public vehicles, adding however that smoking is legally permissible in what the act calls (a designated smoking area or a designated room).

He said section eight of 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. Together we can stamp out this terrible scourge.