Inhaling of snuff, new craze among ER drivers

Inhaling of snuff

Inhaling of snuff, new craze among ER drivers

Inhaling of snuff, new craze among ER drivers. Inhaling of snuff, an addictive tobacco in the form of a powder known as “Asara” is now the new craze among some drivers in the Eastern region.
They inhale the substance just before they take off from the lorry stations to their various destinations.

The snuff, which contain addictive powder prepared from pulverized tobacco, moringa, black pepper corns or tailed pepper (wisa), saltpeter or marijuana is mostly sold at obscured places at the lorry stations and are well patronized by these drivers. According to health experts, the substance could make drivers intoxicated and aggressive because of its nicotine content. Long distance drivers, who are said to be the main patrons of the snuff, are said to have special containers for mixing the snuff with cocaine. They claim the substance serve as energy booster to enable them to drive for long hours without getting exhausted.

Meanwhile, the National Road Safety Commission has hinted that the practice had become a major contributing factor to road accidents in the region, resulting in high fatalities. Kwesi Mensah, a driver told the Ghanaian Times that he was a regular user of the snuff, which makes him strong and helps to heal sores in his head. Another driver, Kwame Ofosu confirmed that most of his colleagues take the snuff before moving their vehicles out of the station. “As soon as I take it, I felt a burning sensation in my head and was very uncomfortable so I decided not to take it again. I advise the drivers who take it to desist from such practice,” he said.

A seller at one of the Koforidua lorry stations, popularly known as Abi said he sells the substance between 50pesewas and GH¢1. The Chairman of the Heritage Transport Union in Koforidua, Alhaji Seidu Konartey expressed worry over the abuse of the snuff and urged the security agencies to arrest and prosecute abusers to serve as deterrent to others.

The Food and Drugs Authority

The Eastern Regional Manager of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Mr. Samuel Kwakye said the authority has received information about the substance on the market.
He confirmed that the snuff contained nicotine, an ingredient that makes a person feel ‘high’ and not to feel tired, adding that “it later intoxicate people like tramadol and gives an euphoric feeling that can make people work without getting tired. Mr. Kwakye said the nicotine ingredient causes harm to the body and thus, advised drivers to desist from such practice.

Clinical Psychologist
A Clinical Psychologist at the Eastern Regional Hospital, Dr. Isaac Sarfo confirmed that the snuff and cigarette which contain tobacco products have the nicotine ingredient and harmful to the human body.
He said not only does nicotine causes lung cancer but it also causes the person to want it more and more.
“Exposure to nicotine can provoke some unwanted health consequences such as increased blood pressure and increased heart rate. The tobacco in the snuff which contain nicotine can also lead to eyes problems such as cataract, heart diseases, impotence and infertility, weakened Immune system, peptic ulcer diseases among others. However, he added that even though marijuana does not contain nicotine it has the tetra hydro cannabinol (THC) that is also harmful to the body and therefore advised people to desist from taking such substances and others that have the nicotine ingredient in it.

NATIONAL ROAD SAFETY COMMISSION

The Eastern Regional Manager of the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), Mr. Abdulai Bawa Ghamsah blamed the high rate of accident in the region to the new practice adopted by the drivers.
He revealed that in 2018 half year, 1, 059 people have already been killed in road accidents, 475 pedestrians killed , 5997 injured and 1,752 pedestrians knockdown.
Mr. Ghamsah said 90-98% of vehicles travelling on the high was in the region exceeded posted speed limits and all of these indiscipline can be attributed to wrongful overtaking which occur as a result of being influenced by alcohol or drug abuse. He said the snuff with its nicotine ingredient gives drivers false sense of confidence and makes them have poor sense of judgment causing them to do wrongful overtaking and applying of breaks “and this result in the many accidents on our roads. “Our roads have become dangerous and it is necessary for all stakeholders to help remedy the situation.” He advised transport unions to conduct pre-departure checks before drivers leave the lorry stations.

Motor Traffic and Transport Union Directorate (MTTD)

The Deputy Motor Traffic and Transport Union Directorate (MTTD) Commander, ASP Isaac Ampofo for his part said it has been challenging to check drivers on drug abuse because of lack of equipment.
He called on the government to ensure that the MTTD has adequate test kits to check the abuse of drugs including the snuff to enable them arrest and prosecute offenders to serve as deterrent to other.

The UN and SDGs

The 2030 Agenda for SDGs, adopted by the United Nations in 2015, contains goal number three which emphasizes on good health and well-being.
Moreover, the UN set up a trust fund with a kick start of $10million to help fight road accidents since about 1.3 million die annually and 50 million getting injured as a result of road accidents.
For this it is expected that the drivers would desist from such practice to ensure that the goal is achieved and drivers good health and well-being are also achieved.

The Author: Ama Takyiwaa Ampadu is a multiple international award winning Journalist with several years of experience in health writing whose works have travelled far and wide across the globe.

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