Dr Mustapha Ahmed, Member of Parliament (MP), Ayawaso East and Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, on Tuesday said efforts should be made to lay before Parliament, the Tobacco Usage Bill to help control the use of tobacco in public places.

He said the government was ready to put in place policies and programmes to curb tobacco use in public if the Bill was passed by Parliament.

“In the meantime we need to function as educators by setting the example of abstaining from tobacco use.”

Dr Ahmed made the appeal in a statement on the floor of the House, in commemoration of World No Tobacco Day, which fell on May 31, on the theme: “Tobacco Health Warnings.”

He said Ghana was at the early stage of tobacco control, while the public was not fully aware of the severity of the health hazards from tobacco use.

Dr Ahmed said there was no need for the country to wait for the catastrophe attached to tobacco use.

“As legislators it is our duty to make laws that will protect non-smokers health and the right to tobacco-free air,” adding that, “it is high time we follow the examples of Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia by banning smoking in all public places”.

The MP said tobacco had a harmful effect on children and especially pregnant women, while children exposed to a smoking environment were prone to developing bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma.

Dr Ahmed said a research study carried out in some hotels, restaurants and night clubs, had revealed that “there are high levels of measurement of nicotine above the acceptable international levels”.

He said a stick of cigarette contained over 4,000 dangerous chemicals, which are dissolved in the smoke.

Dr Ahmed said according to a World Health Organisation (WHO)report, a puff of smoke released into the atmosphere, contained cancer causing agents and a chemical like carbon monoxide that affected the blood.

“Other chemicals include arsenic, ammonia, methanol, butane, acetic acid and a host of other dangerous chemicals.”

Dr Ahmed noted that the World No Tobacco Day, is celebrated worldwide to inform the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what the WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic and what people around the world can do to claim their rights to health and healthy living and also protect future generations.

Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and MP for Wa West, supported the call for the laying and passage of the Tobacco Usage Bill as early as possible, and advised medical doctors who smoke to set the example by quitting the habit, instead of “sending wrong signals to the public.”

He said people should be encouraged to stop smoking, “even though I know it is very difficult to stop because they are addicted to cigarettes due to the nicotine in it.”

Mr Yieleh Chireh urged MPs to support the control of cigarette smoking in public places by passing the law on tobacco use when it is laid before the House.

Source: GNA