The Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a non-governmental organisation has called on the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to ban the sale of single sticks of cigarette with immediate effect.
It said the single sale of the cigarette had encouraged the youth to engage in smoking of tobacco and was destroying their lives with diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases, among others.
Mr Labram Musah, the Programmes Director of VALD and Coordinator of Ghana NCD Alliance made the call at a news conference to throw light on a survey conducted by VALD in collaboration with Africa Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) on the “Sale of Single Stick of Cigarette to Kids” in 10 capital cities of Africa including Accra, Ghana.
The other countries are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Togo and Uganda.
In Ghana, the survey was conducted around areas; such as Nima, Maamobi, Kokomlemle and some parts of Osu community in Accra.
Mr Musah said the sale of single sticks of cigarettes had become problematic since it was cheaper than a full pack of cigarettes and, consequently, made tobacco more affordable to the youth and other individuals with limited resources.
“Single stick cigarette sale facilitate experimentation among the youth who have not yet become regular smokers. This is one of the major reasons the tobacco industry vehemently opposes sale of cigarettes in a pack of 20 sticks,” he observed.
The Programmes Director said: “One of the measures to aid the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals is tax on tobacco products; it will serve as revenue stream for government and also discourage smoking and initiation.”
Mr Musah urged the MoH and FDA and all relevant authorities to monitor the British America Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris International (PMI) to prevent them from their activities of supplying free promotional materials to tobacco retailers in order to create recognition of their brands and to encourage the sale of their products.
He said the authorities should enforce the ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and this should include any advertising or promotional materials related to single sticks.
He said the enforcement of the ban would be in line with Article 13 and 16 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the national tobacco control laws and regulations.
“The authorities must also ensure that cigarettes are not sold close to educational institutions, hospitals, children playing grounds and places where children are cared for while ensuring that the aspects of the tobacco control laws and regulations protecting children are strictly adhered to.”
“School children are also exposed to candy cigarettes in the form of cigarette aimed at encouraging new smokers while there are open advertising of cigarettes by shops and hawkers near the schools despite tobacco marketing restrictions,” he said.
He said the newest trend had been the introduction of shisha/waterpipe tobacco and that it was being accepted by many of the youth of the country, which was far dangerous than the traditional cigarette and contributed to diseases such as, Tuberculosis and hepatitis, among others.