By Madi S. Njie
Momodou Gassama public relations officer of the office the World Health Organisation (WHO) in The Gambia has disclosed that out of the 8 million people dying of smoking in the world, one million cases are as a result of second hand smoking, either by being exposed, or inhaling.
Gassama was speaking at a recent press briefing on the enforcement of Tobacco Control Act in The Gambia at National Quality Assurance Authority (NAQAA) conference hall, along Bartil Herding Highway.
He added: “Some years ago we were saying 6 million people were dying annually of cigarette smoking, but currently 8 million are people dying annually due to cigarette smoking related illness,” he said.
“WHO estimate has it that tobacco uses have declined worldwide from 27 per cent to 20 per cent in 2016 worldwide. But Tobacco uses are in the increasing in developing countries, and declining in the developed world. Why because there are regulations in the developed world,” he observed.
He revealed that out of the 1.2 Billion Smokers in the world, 80% are in the developing countries.
“But The Gambia is moving very fast, showing to the world that something can be done. We are championing in tobacco control. We were having some laws, before the ratification of the framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2007. One of them was the 1998 No Smoking in Public Act, a Private Member Bill authored by the late Edrisa Samba Sallah then National Assembly Member for Sami.
He said it was not fully implemented due to challenges, but it was a decisive journey, and part of a bigger battle as it shows that we were committed to Tobacco Control.
Further commenting on the initial government efforts, Mr Gassama said in 2003 there was a Bill that prohibits Tobacco Advertisement and The Gambia was hailed, because not many countries had that.
“WHO were rallying behind The Gambia, to strengthen Government efforts, because the tobacco industry can derail our efforts, if we don’t mind,” he said.
Hes call for the upholding of moral obligations, especially as journalists, to do their very best to protect the future generations from the dangers of the increasing tobacco usage trends.
Mr Gassama said the WHO through collaboration with the Ministry of Health and stakeholders has planned activities to sensetise the public, meet key decision makers, including the governors, Alkalolu, youth groups, shopkeepers and other key stakeholders.
Reiterating the significant role of the media in sensitisation, Gassama commended the Ministry of Health, Raid-The Gambia, the media and other partners.