By Madi S. Njie
Modou Njai, Director of Health Promotion and Education, and other health experts have announced that the Tobacco Control Act will be enforce on October 1, 2019.
The stakeholders commended, but also challenged the media to redouble their efforts in raising awareness of the public on the Tobacco Control Act and the new regulations.
The Tobacco Control Regulation is meant to enable effective implementation of the Tobacco Control Act gazetted in July 2019 and given a grace period of 3 months for its full enforcement effect in October 2019.
Mr Njai expressed the need for serialisation of the Act in media publications, assuring that Act will be translated into local languages for wider audience in raising public awareness.
“We have a lot of work to do. We need to fight our enemy, and that is tobacco. Children under 18 years of age should not be sent by parents to buy cigarette,” he said.
He added that those parents and the public need to know that they should be 100 metres away from children, and pregnant women, when smoking and be away from public places such as Bantabas, public buses, as stipulated in the Tobacco Control Act.
Modou Njai was speaking at a press briefing organised by Raid-The Gambia in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and WHO at National Quality Assurance Authority (NAQAA) conference hall, along Bartil Herding Highway in Bakau on September 6, 2019.
The Health Promotion Director also underscored the significance and responsibilities of the media to inform the public about the contents of the Act.
He said people smoking in the households need to know about the dangers of second hand smoking.
He highlighted that Raid-The Gambia deemed it imperative to inform the media about the Act and the Regulation through collaboration with the Ministry of Health and WHO.
He recalled that Association of Health Journalists (AOHJ) was established on July 10, 2001, describing it as the baby of the health ministry and WHO.
He assured the Ministry’s continued support to build the capacity of health journalists.
Njai said they want to reach youth leaders, women groups, the elderly, traditional groups, village development committees and other key actors, including governors, among others across the country for sensitisation.
Sefoe Singhatey, who chaired the press briefing said the Act was enacted on December 17, 2016, but enforcement was lacking as regulations were not ready by then.
He said the Tobacco Control Act was gazetted on July 1, 2019.
Lamin Sonko, who spoke on behalf of Sambujang Conteh, Executive Director of Raid – The Gambia recollected that on June 5, 2005 The Gambia ratified Tobacco Control Convention.
He said there were lot of efforts by the Health Ministry with partners such as WHO and other civil society organisations, including Raid – The Gambia.
He said an assessment was conducted which recommended for Tobacco Control Law, and Multi-sectoral Tobacco Control Coordination Mechanism.
He acknowledged that the recommendation was adhered to and it resulted in the country having a Tobacco Control Committee and Law.
Sonko said in 2013 there has been increase in Tobacco Taxation until December 2016, noting that since then there has been lot of efforts by the Ministry of Health and partners.
He described the on-going sensetisation as efforts to ensure full and effective implementation of this law.