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Over 5000 Children In Ghana Suffer From Tobacco Effect

More than 5000 children between the ages of 10 to 15 years in Ghana smoke daily while 80,400 adults who are 16 years old continue to use tobacco daily, especially shisha and e-cigarettes, VALD has stated. Tobacco Smoking; the Silent Killer! 

Experts say each time someone takes a puff they introduce 7 thousand chemicals into their lungs. Even pregnant women and their unborn children including non-smokers are at risk.

 

RESEARCH AND DISCOVERIES

The reporter encountered an a-43-year-old man; Mr. Michael who has been smoking for the past 22 years. Apart from tobacco, he smokes Indian hemp and drinks alcohol.  A victim of tobacco addiction, quitting has become a challenge even though doctors have advised him against it. He confesses to sending his children to buy him cigarettes, a practice he knows can negatively influence them.

Medics say that persons, who are directly exposed to tobacco smoking or inhale the smoke are considered passive or second-hand smokers and stand the risk of getting kidney and other cancerous diseases. And this kills thousands of people yearly.  So, this was what the reporter exposed himself to when conducting this interview with Mr. Michael. A situation I found myself in on this particular day, as my interviewee was busily smoking. It was disclosed that many parents have exposed children to second smoking due to their smoking habits.

A cursory observation reveals that sometimes some of these children when playing use instruments like paper or pieces of sticks to practice smoking. Two of the children, about the age of 8 years were caught in the act of smoking cigarettes. A 15-year-old boy was also caught smoking in a public toilet.

EASY TO ACCESS TOBACCO PRODUCTS OR BUY

The extremely cheap prices of cigarettes on the market (as low as 1.50 p) one Ghana cedi fifty pesewas), make it affordable for most people. At least those who cannot afford can buy the single sticks. Tobacco products are consumed by both adults and children, especially those who are highly exposed at their tender age. These are consumed by chewing, sniffing, and smoking.

Places where people normally smoke include beaches, pubs, nightclubs, and obscure places. Others prefer also smoking in public toilets.

According the Ghana’s Public Health Act, 2012 Act 851 person shall not sell or offer for sale tobacco or a tobacco product to a child. It further indicated that no person shall expose a child to tobacco or a tobacco product. But our checks revealed that many people sent children to buy them while others also sent children to light cigarettes.

The tobacco plant is said to contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals including, carbon monoxide, benzene, arsenic, and formaldehyde. Tobacco comes in different forms such as cigarettes, cigar pipes, and Shisha among others.

INTRODUCING AROMATIC FLAVORS TO TOBACCO PRODUCTS

Today, manufacturers have added sweetened aromatic flavours to tobacco products to make them more appealing and attractive. The flavour includes watermelon and apple among others. A strategy not only enticing the youth to get addicted to smoking but also killing/ millions of people in the world.

EXPERTS ADVICE

In an exclusive interview the Program Director for VALD, Mr. Labram M Musa hinted that currently, 4.7 percent of boys as against 5.4 percent of girls smoke Shisha. He advised the youth to stay away from tobacco use since it can lead to many health complications. He called on parents to protect their children against tobacco use such as cigarette and shisha and e-cigarettes

The ENT Surgeon of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Dr. Kenneth Baidu articulates shisha is one of the most dangerous smoking products aside from tobacco use. He added that most of the youth have been addicted to tobacco products. Dr. Kenneth further highlighted that the causal effects of tobacco smoking are enormous. Tobacco affects the bladder, lungs, kidneys, liver, heart, nose, and throat. People diagnosed with tobacco illnesses are often time referred to the theatre to undergo surgery.

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The Head of the Tobacco & Substance Abuse Directorate- FDA, Dr. Olivia Boateng said aside from cancer, tobacco also affects one’s breath, gum, and teeth which may lead to the filling and wearing of crowns. She said smoking is a leading cause of cancer, affecting many parts of the body.

INCREASE OF TAXATION / BAN

Dr Olivia said high taxation on tobacco products like cigarettes is one of the surest ways to control its rate of consumption among its associated health risks.

Meanwhile, advocates and most stakeholders in the health value chain are calling for a total ban on tobacco sales or use as well as the importation of tobacco products like shisha and e-cigarettes.

According to the World Health Organization’s estimation, 8 million persons globally die of smoking each year. It further indicated that more than 80% of the 1.3 billion tobacco users globally live in low – and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death has occurred. A report by ATLAS Ghana reveals that about 780,000 men and 24,900 women smoke daily.

Tobacco is said to be one of the leading causes of death in Ghana, killing more than 6000 people annually with at least 75 men dying from its usage weekly. The country loses one billion cedis yearly to the treatment of tobacco-related illnesses as well as cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

 

STORY BY:  KWEKU BOLTON

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