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Tobacco kills 5M annually - Raid Director

Sep 30, 2010, 1:03 PM | Article By: B. Samateh & MK Marenah

Samboujang Conteh Director of an NGO called African Network for Information and Action Against Drugs, also known as Raid the Gambia, has revealed that 5 million people die every year in tobacco-related illness worldwide. Mr. Conteh made these remarks at a sensitisation meeting held at the police headquarters in Banjul in connection with the need to enforce the prohibition of tobacco smoking in public places.

Speaking at the same event, Superintendent Sulayman Secka, the police public relations officer, said since the law banning smoking in public places was enacted in 1998, the WHO, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and Raid the Gambia want to see it enforced as a law.

"I hope that the message must have reach in all corners of the Gambia about the anti-smoking Act of 1998," PRO Secka added.

He explained that the Act commands the premises owner, head of institutions and business people running places where the public have access, to provide smoking areas within their premises.

Thus, if the employer provides a smoking area for his or her staff, and he/she violates it, that particular employee commits an offence, he stated.

The tobacco focal point at the Ministry of Health, Yerro Bah, announced that the media are partners in the campaign against the use of tobacco, since it is an issue that the Ministry of Health cannot tackle alone.

He said journalists have a big role to play in disseminating information, pointing out that people do smoke in public places without thinking of the health implications.

He said "with effect from 1st October 2010 all cigarette packs are required to bear the following health warning: "Smoking Kills", "Smoking Seriously Harms You and Others Around You", among other warnings.

Mr. Bah said a study has shown that smoking in public is directly damaging your health, and that non-smokers around will equally suffer the same health problem.

Momodou Gassama, the communication officer at WHO Gambia office, said that WHO has been in this battle against tobacco use since 1989.

"We the WHO have been so committed against tobacco use in the country, but we are facing so many challenges regarding tobacco use in the country, most especially by children between the ages of 13 and 15 years old," he added.