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Tobacco poses serious threats to public health

Sep 23, 2014, 11:06 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The deputy director of Health Promotion and Education has said tobacco and its related products pose serious threats to public health, the economy and the environment.

Muhammed Saho was speaking recently at the Atlantic Hotel in Banjul during a day’s advocacy forum for tobacco control with law makers.

The meeting was convened by the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Unit of the Ministry of Health and RAID The Gambia with funding from the American Cancer Society.

The forum was designed to solicit participants’ support to achieve parliamentary and cabinet approval of the national Tobacco Control Policy for the period 2014 to 2018, as well as secure a 3 per cent allocation of Tobacco taxation revenue to the NCDs unit.

Mr Saho spoke of the successes registered in tobacco control in The Gambia, but noted that a lot more needed to be done while making a passionate appeal to the law makers to help the anti-tobacco campaign achieve the desired objectives.

The Executive Director of RAID-The Gambia, Sambou Jang Conteh, described the forum as the way forward for tobacco control.He explained that the meeting is in line with article 26 of the global treaty on tobacco control dubbed WHO FCTC, which the country has signed and ratified and thus is obliged to fully implement all its provisions.

He restated his organization’s commitment to continue working with the ministry of Health to achieve a tobacco-free Gambia.

Mr Conteh also solicited support from the National Assembly members to counter the threats posed by the tobacco industry to both the health sector and the country’s development process.

He told the law makers that there is an urgent need to increase the tobacco tax and allocate more resources to the NCDs unit to enhance the national tobacco response.

The national tobacco control focal point and programme manager NCDs unit, Omar Badjie, made similar remarks.

The deputy Speaker of the National Assembly who doubles as chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Health, Honourable Fatou Mbaye, praised the initiative and assured the organisers of their full support.

The meeting was chaired Bakary Sonko of the mental health services and substance abuse programme management.