Ghana: Tobacco-related illnesses kill 6,700 annually
Data available indicated that more than 6,700 Ghanaians die annually from tobacco-related illnesses.
Out of this figure, 4,422 representing 66% died prematurely under age 70 from tobacco-related illnesses.
A total 1,206 representing 18% lost their lives to tobacco-related illnesses due to exposure to second-hand smoke.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Ghana is losing GH₵668 million every year due to tobacco use.
It is estimated that investing now in tobacco control measures will prevent more than 20,000 deaths and avert GH₵1.3 billion economic losses by 2037.
Tobacco use even though brings some form of benefits such as relieving restlessness and anxiety to smokers, the damage it caused far outweighed the benefits, thus cautioned people against it.
People must therefore find ways of dealing with their depression, anxiety, and restlessness as the continuous use of a particular drug can lead to addiction which predisposes one to other types of mental illnesses.
Death due to tobacco is preventable, that is why we should not leave ourselves as four per cent of Ghanaians to die from tobacco.
It should not be part of the worldwide picture of eight million tests a year.
In view of the above, Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health Authority (MHA), Dr Akwasi Osei, has charged the government to ban tobacco usage in the country because it is killing more people annually.
All over the world, the powerful tobacco lobby spends whatever it takes to keep politicians and policy makers beholden to them and maintain a toxic status quo.
It is therefore important that Ghana implements the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) policy actions, including increasing tobacco taxation to reduce the affordability of tobacco products and create smoke-free public and workplaces to protect people from the harms of tobacco smoke.
The Finder recommends the development of a national tobacco control strategy to strictly enforce the prohibition of the sale of tobacco to minors.
The country must also strictly enforce the ban on tobacco advertising and promotion, implementing pictorial health warnings, ratification of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Tobacco Trade and mass media campaigns on tobacco dangers to save lives.
The country has made much effort towards tobacco control but, that notwithstanding, more efforts is need to enhance the weak tobacco tax structure and cessation to attain the WHO recommendations.