CSOs declare war on ‘Shisha’

 VISION for Alternative Development, (VALD), Ghana Non Communicable Diseases Alliance and other civil society organisations (CSOs) have called on the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to immediately ban the smoking of “shisha” in the country.

The call was made in a petition signed on behalf of the organisations by Programmes Director of VALD Mr. Labram M. Musah and Vice Chairman of Ghana Non-Communicable Disease Alliance (GhNCDA) Mr Adams Ebenezer and copied to Today over the weekend.

The shisha, referred to as “water pipe” is a tobacco smoking device which  employs an indirect heat source (such as lit charcoal) to slowly burn tobacco leaves while users draw the smoke through a hose attached to a water chamber.

The petition said, per the Public Health Act of 2012 (Act 851), specifically part six, (Tobacco Control Measures), shisha must be considered an illicit product and its influx in the country was causing health consequences to the youth, who were the main targets.

It said, health campaigners across the globe have warned of the dangers of smoking shishas.

The petition said: “Apart from the known diseases such as heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and problems associated with  pregnancy, smokers are at high risk of infectious diseases such as TB, Hepatitis, among others”

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in a recent advisory note to regulators, revealed that “smoking shisha poses grave health risks”.

The petition, however said, the “WHO insists that even after it has been passed through water, the smoke produced contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals”.

It said, the CSOs firmly believe that shisha/water pipe tobacco products imported into the country are  all illegal, and that all tobacco products must be registered with the FDA before they are  allowed entry into the country.

“Our source indicates that they are coming from neighbouring countries through unapproved routes. Some of these products have no country of origin and no one knows the actual constituents of these products being excessively used by the youth and some celebrities,” the petition said.

It said, the Tobacco Control Measures of Act 851 and Regulations 2247 clearly states that, all tobacco products must have health warnings, “but many hotels and restaurants have shisha lounges opened to the public every day without health warnings”.

The organisations, which endorsed the petition were; Alzheimer’s Ghana, Stroke Association Support Network – Ghana, Coalition of NGO in Health, Greater Accra Region; Integrated Social Development Centre, Consumer Concerns Initiative, Ghana Muslim Mission, Shisha 101 – Legon Campus, Coalition of NGOS in Tobacco Control, and Network for health and Relief Foundation.

Others were; the Movement Against Tobacco and Substances of Abuse, Aid for Needy Children Foundation, Federation of Youth Clubs, Concern Health NGO, Resource Link Foundation, Cilikgold Association, Coalition of NGO in Health, Ashanti Region, Defense Against AIDS, and Poverty and Under development.

The rest were; the Foundation for Future Christian Workers International, Media Alliance in Tobacco Control and Health, Community Health Support Team, Action for Integrated Development, Alliance for Reproductive Health Right, Institute of Leadership and Development, Hope Care Ghana, Ghana NCD Alliance, Ghana Academy of Muslim Professionals, Ghana Alcohol Policy Alliance, and Vision for Alternative Development.

 

Story: Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU

Writer’s email:freeman.koryekpor@todaygh.com

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