Tobacco Control Committee embarks on enforcement exercise

Tobacco Control Committee embarks on enforcement exercise

By Cherno Omar Bobb

The National Tobacco Control Committee last Sunday concluded a two-day enforcement exercise that took them to various regions across the country.

The quaterly exercise was carried out in partnership with sister enforcement agencies such as The Gambia Police Force, Custom officers, Environmental Inspectors, Police Intervention Unit and Public Health Officials.

The exercise availed the committee the opportunity to inspect retail stores and business enterprises with a view to ensuring ‘if businesses are complying’ with the 2016 Tobacoo Control Act.

During the exercise, inspectors also searched ‘if available tobacco packs found in those shops have graphic health warnings, or whether shop owners are still openly displaying tobacco products; engage in selling single sticks and/or selling to minors. Where shop owners were found to be in violation of the Act, they were cautioned.

At the exercise, Alagie Kinteh, Commissioner of Police and Tobacco Control Focal Point for The Gambia Police Force, said the exercise was mainly to assess whether shopkeepers are adhering to the 2016 Tobacco Control Act where public smoking, sale of single cigarette in shops, open display of tobacco products and sale to minors, are all banned.

Commissioner Kinteh reminded that tobacco is a legal product and shopkeepers have the right to sell it. However, he was quick to note that one cannot sell it to minors, sell packs without label; single sale of sticks and/or even openly display the products.

For her part, Fatoumatta Komma, from the Non-Communicable Disease Unit at the Ministry of Health, reminded that the Ministry passed a law in 2016 geared towards controling the demand and suply of tobacco products in the country.

However, she indicated that tobacco sale and use is legal but noted that they’re trying to protect the health of the population from the harmful effects of tobacco smoking by putting measures in place.

The exercise, she added, was also to find out how far the smoke free law has gone, pointing out that there is evidence that someone who does not smoke, but exposed to environmental tobacco smoke, is at risk of developing diseases like hypertension, diabetes, cancer, among others.

However, the exercise showed that majority of shopkeepers are still in violation of the Act. To that end, the teams in West Coast Region confiscicated all openly displayed tobacco products and single sold cigarettes and cautioned shopkeepers to desist from such acts.

The confiscicated products were counted, registered and handed over to Public Health Officials.


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