The President John Dramani Mahama has appended his signature to the much talked about Public Health Bill.
By this act the Bill is now a full blown Act and now awaits the adoption of a Legislative Instrument to make it enforceable.
The Bill is a consolidation of nine separate legislations on public health including the controversial Tobacco Control Measures.
After taking the draft law through the various stages of legislation, parliament finally pronounced the law passed on July 11, 2012.
Subsequently, expectations were high for the presidential assent in view of the urgent need for a law that would specifically guide tobacco usage in the country.
Information regarding the where about of the law became scanty after parliament had pronounced it passed.
While some claim to have sighted the Bill at the Ministry of Health, others argued the law had been referred back to the Attorney General?s department for what they termed ?legalize? input. It was therefore expected to go back to parliament for onward presentation to The Office of the President.
However, impeccable sources at Cabinet and at the Presidency told Ghananewslink.com that the President has finally assented to the bill last week.
According to our source it was the President?s personal commitment to ensure that the country gets legislation to control tobacco usage in the country in view of the bad effects of tobacco on both active users and non-users of tobacco.
?It was also a campaign promise of the ruling government and so we were not surprised when President Mahama himself ensured that the law moved speedily. That is why he did not waste time to sign it as soon as it got to his desk? the sources stated.
Stakeholders are in the process of drafting a Legislative Instrument for the consideration of Parliament. The adoption of the LI will give implementation powers to the Law and make it enforceable. The adoption of the LI is however not expected to happen until the beginning of the next parliament in view of the tight schedule of parliament ahead of the impending elections.
The new public health law has the objective of promoting public health and well-being, strengthening the public health infrastructure, provide essential public health services and functions, identify roles and responsibilities of public health agencies and encouraging communities to create and maintain a healthy environment.
Research indicates that five million people die in a year and one hundred million people have died in this century as a result of tobacco related disease. It is estimated that about one billion people will die in this century unless a number of smokers quite the habit of smoking tobacco or tobacco products.
About 4000 chemical compounds have been identified in tobacco smoke. Of these, at least 250 are known to be cancer causing agents or otherwise toxic which causes diseases like lung cancer, bronchitis and emphysema and is also linked to the high incidence and gravity of cardiac diseases. Tobacco use is therefore extremely injurious to the health of both smokers and non-smokers.
In Ghana tobacco use is rising steadily especially among the youth. A recent nationwide survey to determine smoking prevalence among school children aged between 12 and 18 years showed that about 14% have used tobacco before and five per cent are currently smoking cigarettes.
Considering the extent of the harmful effect of smoking on health and culture of associating smoking with social success, business advancement and sporting process through advertisement, in 2004 the 192 member states of the World Health Organization (WHO), including Ghana, adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which banned advertising and sponsorships by tobacco companies.
Ghana has since ratified the convention which enjoins the country to take administrative, legislative and any other means to curb the incidence of smoking and reduce the hazards associated with smoking. A national steering committee on tobacco was established to evaluate the incidence of tobacco smoking and make proposals to address the issue culminating in the drafting of a bill and its subsequent passage into law by Parliament.

M.A.K

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