Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has called on the government to impress upon the Ghana Education Service (GES) and Ministry of Education to shut down retail shops selling tobacco-related products, particularly cigarettes, close to educational institutions in the country.
The closure of these cigarette shops, according to VALD, will be one of the ways to reducing the use of the products, which are highly patronised by the youth.
VALD noted that although tobacco companies have stopped advertising their products on televisions and newspapers, advertising and sale of single sticks cigarettes now occur through different channels.
“We are aware retailers sell single sticks of cigarettes because they are not aware of any existing regulation governing the sale of tobacco products,” VALD stated.
Programmes Director of VALD, Mr Labram Musah, made the call when he addressed a press conference in Accra to present a report on the sale of single stick cigarettes to kids conducted by Africa Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) in ten national capitals in Africa.
These countries include Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Burkina Faso.
He explained that the sale of cigarettes in single sticks initiates the youth and the poor into smoking and consequently worsens the tobacco epidemic, which is already ominous in Africa.
To get a better understanding of the phenomenon of the sale of single sticks cigarettes on the continent, he said ATCA partnered with some CSOs including VALD and conducted a survey in the above 10 African countries.
Mr Musah said the survey revealed that cigarettes were widely sold in single sticks in Africa, and had the tendency of introducing the youth into smoking.
“Single cigarette sticks is widespread in Africa and poses serious health hazards to users and it must be banned,” he stressed.
VALD, according to Mr Musah, was established to promote alternative initiative and development at all levels of society with the objective of advocating for health promotion, good governance and peace building.
He said VALD was among key stakeholders that worked on the Public Health Act of 2012, the Tobacco Control Regulations of 2016 and the National Alcohol Policy of 2016 among others.
He noted that VALD in collaboration with other civil society organisations were working to stop the spread of tobacco epidemic on the African continent.
To this end, Mr Musah called for a complete cessation of sale of single sticks of cigarettes to kids in the country, which he described as “criminal and dangerous.”
Story: Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU