The Ministry of Health and Sanitation met with Parliamentarians and Civil Society Institutions yesterday at Committee Room #1 to open further discussions on the ratification of a law that will prohibit public smoking in the country.
The discussion was primarily geared towards enacting legislation that would frustrate public smoking considering the indisputable hazards that are attached to smoking generally.
Strings of tobacco related sicknesses were unraveled to Parliamentarians and Civil Society Organizations in a presentation by a health practitioner Dr. Modupeh Cole. It was pointed out that those sicknesses like oral cancer, cancer of the oesophagus, lower respiratory tract infection or pneumonia and bronchitis, coughing and wheezing, worsening of asthma and middle ear diseases are all linked to smoking.
It was further disclosed that Tobacco Manufacturing Industries use addictive contents such as nicotine to increase irresistible desire for smoking. These companies use other fascinating means through expensive advertorials to capture the attention of tobacco consumers. This has over the years contributed to the alarming number of smokers among the youth population.
A brief statistics was given to participants in respect of the epidemic caused by smoking. It was highlighted that tobacco is the single preventable cause of death in the world today. It has claimed the lives of people more than HIV/AIDS and Malaria; it is the greatest emerging health disaster in human history since it kills one person every six seconds globally.
In further statistics, it presumed that tobacco, by 2030, it will claim the lives of 10 Million people each year, and 70% out of all deaths will occur in developing countries. It was suggested that if current of tobacco smoking continues, about 650 million people alive today will eventually be killed by tobacco, half of them in productive middle age, each losing 20 to 25 years of life.
In Sierra Leone, 32.3% of the existing number of male population smokes as against 10.3% of females. This, according to WHO Global Report on Tobacco Epidemic published in 2008, will have a long term serious socio-economic and health consequences.
Tobacco is classified as the only legal consumer product that can harm everyone exposed to it; especially passive smokers (those who inhale while others smoke).
The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as presented by Amanita Grace Kobi has stated in Article 8 that protecting people from the effect of tobacco is highly paramount in the WHO agenda. She stated that every country that is signatory to the Framework Convention has bided to prohibit public smoking. Sierra Leone became a signatory to the convention last year, giving reason for the law to be passed on tobacco control.
She counted on the keen support of MPs to fast track the process of the bill when it will be tabled before parliament for ratification since it hinges seriously on both socio-economic and health status of the general Sierra Leonean population.
The moderator of the meeting Mrs. Bintu Myers who is also the Chairperson of the parliamentary committee on health promised officials of the Ministry of Health of her effort and support to make sure the project becomes a reality.