Coalition of Tobacco Control Campaigners in the country have expressed grave concern over the lack of political will to sign and ratify the WHO frame work convention on Tobacco Control which has led to the high rate of deaths, disease and disability caused by exposure to tobacco smoke in Sierra Leone.
The Community Action for Development programs and Services (CADEP-SL) in collaboration with one of their donor partners Frame Work Convention Alliance that is building support for tobacco control yesterday brought together Members of Parliament, Government Officials, Civil Society Groups and the media to embark on a vigorous campaign for a smoke free society.
The innovation of this campaign came from a hard working Member of Parliament for constituency 36 Kamakwei in Northern Sierra Leone Marie Jalloh who is concerned about the impact of smoking on the health of the people caused by un-controlled smoking.
She also spoke about the need to review the laws on advertising promotions with an increased tax to discourage its use in our society because of the rise of the smoking rate among women which poses a significant threat to the advancement of the economic and health status of the people.
She also said that money spent on tobacco is more than for food, health care, education and other priorities as tobacco use also contributes substantially to malnutrition, disability and other major causes of poverty. She expressed the need for the coalition to work together with the Government for the implementation of tobacco control policies.
The Programme Coordinator (CADEP-SL) Joseph O Babadi gave an overview of the tobacco control convention who is party to FCTC to propose appropriate guidelines for the implementation of the provisions of Article 8.
He noted that the proposed guidelines and objective is to advance the effective implementation of Article 8 by offering thoughtful guidelines and specific recommendations for applying the treaties in Sierra Leone.
Babadi said the guidelines are the result of an open and transparent process to reflect the consensus of diverse groups parties and experts with the support of Civil Society that is supported with legislation that reflects global best practice and expressed the need for Government and stakeholders to ratify the convention with a vigorous campaign.
Vice Chairman of the Drug Control Unit Solomon Ngaoja spoke about the rampant smoking in the country and the various types of drugs that are posing serious threats in the society and disclosed that Attaya and Coke are also harmful drugs noting that 85% of tobacco smokers end up smoking Marijuana.
Sillah Davis of SLANGO promised to work hand in hand with the coalition to make a smoke free society and spoke of worries over the increase in tobacco smoking in the country and expressed the willingness to facilitate and help in networking and project proposal writing that will be implemented to reduce the rampant smoking.
Principal of the Murray Town Junior Secondary School Wusu Samura who chaired the forum spoke about the hazards posed by smoking in the society which is responsible for the high death rate among youths, while Alysious Kamara of the Health Education Division at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation promised to collaborate with the Coalition to educate the public on the dangers of tobacco smoking and boasted of plans to organize a free radio discussion on a smoke free society at Culture Radio.
By Saidu Bah