Tobacco use kills over 6,000 Ghanaians annually -ILAPI

The Institute for Liberty and Policy Innovation (ILAPI), a free enterprise organisation that emphasises freedom and individual liberty, has observed that the use of tobacco in Ghana accounts for about 6,700 deaths yearly. Sixty-six per cent of these deaths are premature among people under the age of 70, the ILAPI explained.

Ghana, the ILAPI continued, records over 8,000 new smokers annually, thus, expressing the fear that the use of tobacco could result in a staggering record of premature deaths by 2030.

The Executive Director of the ILAPI, Peter Bismark Kwofie, supported his observation with a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) at a brief presser in Tema to raise the high health risks of tobacco use to the user and Ghanaians.

He said: “A needs assessment exercise for implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) was jointly conducted by the Ministry of Health, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) Ghana, the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC (Convention Secretariat), the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) during the week of September 12, 2022, in Accra, Ghana. The assessment revealed that more than 800,000 Ghanaians continue to smoke and every year, tobacco use kills more than 6,700 Ghanaians, with 66 per cent of these deaths being premature, among people under the age of 70.

“The addictive nature of the nicotine in cigarettes has made quitting smoking a prolonged and difficult process and that, many more smokers are unable to quit. It is estimated that US$115 billion is needed to be invested to help in smoking cessation from 2020–2030.

“In 2019, the economic cost of tobacco use in Ghana amounted to approximately GH¢668 million, equivalent to 0.2 per cent of the country’s GDP.”

Consequently, to fight this, the ILAPI professed the Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) strategy, which the group said was an important and evidence-based alternative to reduce the harm caused by tobacco, and subsequently lead to quitting smoking.

Peter Bismark Kwofie explained: “The Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR), as a public solution, recognises the harm caused by combustible cigarettes and aims to minimise the health impacts of cigarette smoking by encouraging those adult smokers who would, otherwise, continue to smoke to switch completely to scientifically substantiated, reduced-risk alternatives ought to be explored in our contemporary society.

“THR, in most cases, can help reduce the number of tobacco-related deaths by providing smokers with less harmful alternatives through policy and laws to reduce the burden on healthcare systems. By reducing the number of smoking-related illnesses, THR can help reduce healthcare costs and free up resources for other public health priorities.

“Due to the scientifically proven harmfulness of tobacco and addiction, the requisite stakeholders should consciously develop an educative medium to long-term gradual approach to reducing tobacco use rather than a short-term radical approach of denying consumers the right to make choices. This could be ascertained if there is a policy consideration for an alternative consumer choice approach to effectively reduce the intake of tobacco through the concept of THR.”

To conclude, Mr. Kwofie said Ghana needs to embrace THR as an important public health strategy for both the short to medium-and long-term impact to reduce death and other health and economic impacts.


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