The deleterious effect of tobacco on the body has been enumerated by my hon. Colleagues. I think what is important now is to consider what we can do to curb or stop this menace. There was a time when budgets always looked up as to where increases in the prices of commodities were going to be and one of them was on tobacco products.
I think these days, with petrol and other things we seem to have forgotten cigarettes, and if you consider the effect and the cost to the nation of cigarette smoking, I think we should not relent. We can always up the taxes on cigarettes and the choice would be on the smoker whether he wants to buy cigarettes or he does not want to buy cigarettes.
Cigarette smoking literally burns holes in the pockets of workers. Apart from the money spent on actually acquiring the cigarettes, the effect on the person in the form of ill-health and money diverted from use on education and on other economic activities is colossal. I think we can think about how to make sure that the epidemic does not go on. We can start with our school children by actually educating them on the harmful effect of cigarette smoking and then the dangerous aftermaths of people developing all kinds of diseases because of cigarette smoking.
The greatest danger is the development of cancer; and cancers affect all parts of the body, from the lip to the foot. Then there are diseases which are made worse by smoking, like hypertension. This is an endemic area and in Ghana there are so many people with hypertension and those who smoke, their condition is even made worse.
I think we can tackle this problem by legislation, by increasing smoke-free areas in public places, in buses and in schools
- Well, schools are not supposed to smoke but at least we can prevent people who are smoking from entering these places.
One other thing is that of the poorest households which can ill-afford -- Studies have shown that they spend as much as about ten per cent of their income on cigarette smoking. I think all these things can be highlighted so that we reduce the menace of cigarette smoking.
I would like to remind my hon. Friends -- I do not know how many here smoke -- that the body is ill-constructed to smoke I am sure the Almighty, if he had wanted us to smoke, in his wisdom would have put chimneys on top of our heads. So I will advise my hon. Friends that the two holes coming in front of the face, the nostrils are meant for them to inhale fresh air to revitalize the body and not to puff out smoke.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. J. Z. Amenowode (NDC - Hohoe
South): Thank you, Mr. Speaker for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on World Tobacco Free Day.
Mr. Speaker, I guess we all would want legislation that would protect our homes, our institutions, schools, et cetera from the hazards of smoking and I believe if this is done it would create smoke-free zones in our buses, hospitals, schools, et cetera. But we all know that smoking does not only affect the smoker but passive smoking, according to the medical reports, is even more dangerous to non-smokers than to the smokers themselves. So we should actually pass a legislation that would limit the harmful effects of smoking on those who do not even go to the extent of buying the cigarettes, the innocent bystanders.
But Mr. Speaker, when we pass this legislation there is a segment of our population that would not benefit from the legislation; they would rather benefit from
education. These are those who smoke in their homes, who expose their children to passive smoke and I do not think there could be any legislation that would bar the parent from smoking to the detriment of the health of their children.
Mr. Speaker, I would, therefore, encourage our new Ministry of Information and National Orientation to embark on a strong anti-smoking campaign, especially in the presence of our children and our spouses. I guess smoking could be a very bad experience when one spouse smokes and the other does not.
So I will encourage, as I said earlier, us all to invoke our moral sense rather than legislation to protect our children, our spouses, our brothers and sisters from passive smoking.
On this note, I would wand to thank
the hon. Member who made the Statement and thank Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to add my voice to the Statement.
Northern Regional Minister (Alhaji
Abu-Bakar Saddique Boniface): Mr. Speaker, I would want to associate myself with the Statement on the floor which has to do with World No Smoking Day or No Tobacco Day.
Mr. Speaker, a lot of people have taken
to smoking out of habit formation and thinking that it is a modern type of life to often hold a cigar or cigarette and that gives you a different posture altogether. In recent times, we have realized that smoking or smoke by itself is not good for our health. Anything that burn to ashes turns black; so if we believe that these things will happen, why then do we put that smoke into our lungs? Because at the end of the day, the chemist or the scientist will tell us that if you have some action and reaction within blood and smoke, it gives you a different compound altogether, and
that is very dangerous for us.
Countries like Kenya have decided to ban smoking in public places. In the advanced countries, even the cigarettes or the cigars that are often manufactured have labels on them -- “not good for your health”. So I do not know whether it is a challenge for the individual who takes it as a habit to challenge the person who writes that it is not good for our health. And like the hon. Member who made the Statement said, indirect smokers or passive smokers are worse off because we will realize that at the end of the day we end up with tuberculosis (TB).
TB is not only contracted from the industries or the mining companies but even smokers end up with TB, and that is dangerous for our health. And I believe we should not send signals to our children and our children's children that will make them think that smoking is good for our health. Especially in the rural areas, often, you see people rolling cigarettes or tobacco in papers. Others even call it whisky in papers and that goes beyond the ordinary cigarettes.
I therefore would want to associate myself with this Statement and think that legislation be passed to reduce smoking in public places in Ghana and also reduce smokers in the country by placing or slapping a heavy tax on cigarettes. I think those who would take it as a habit and will see it as totally inelastic and will demand -- provided they will be prepared to pay the tax. Based on that, I advocate legislation of that perspective.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me
Ms. Akua Sena Dansua (NDC --
North Dayi): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement.
Mr. Speaker, I am not going to belabour the health problems associated with smoking but will concentrate on the socio- cultural effects of smoking on our society.
Mr. Speaker, we have just been informed
that fourteen per cent of the children aged between twelve and eighteen interviewed have either tasted or actually smoked. And this is, indeed, a very bad sign for the future of the youth of this country.
Mr. Speaker, why am I saying this? I am saying this because smoking cigarettes is like the starting point for the usage of hard and stronger drugs such as heroine and cocaine. And we all know that many people who use cocaine or heroine or such hard drugs, have caused a lot of problems to society in the form of robbery, murder, homelessness and parental irrespon- sibility.
Mr. Speaker, if we go to our rural
areas, one finds that most men who are irresponsible are invariably addicted to cigarette smoking. They will use their last cedi to buy a stick of cigarette, when in actual fact the family has not been provided food for the day. They will use that money to also buy drinks, alcohol to top up whatever they have already gained by way of smoking.
Mr. Speaker, if we look at the problems that these people cause in society, it is like, even though one does not smoke, at the end of the day, we are all worried about it. We are asked to contribute our little taxes to protect society from robbery. To make people responsible, we go by way of creating awareness for people to stop smoking and all of this.
Mr. Speaker, I think that the time has now come for all Ghanaians to actually take this cigarette smoking problem very seriously. If indeed, the youth of tomorrow are to become responsible citizens, then
we need to tackle this problem, especially among school children who have started smoking at this very young age.
Mr. Speaker, there is a National
Tobacco Control Drugs Bill in the offing and I think that when the time comes, when the Bill is eventually laid before this House, all of us will put our heads together and get it passed, so that we can rid society of these social perverts who cause so much problems to us through smoking and graduating to the use of harder drugs.
Mr. Emmanuel A. Gyamfi (NPP --
Odotobri): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement on the Floor.
Mr. Speaker, the economic, social and cultural impact of smoking is very high and we need to do something about it. Mr. Speaker, apart from the health problems that affect the individual smoker, as a result of the smoking habit, the society or the nation as a whole also pays a lot for smoking in the country.
Mr. Speaker, it is quite unfortunate that
smoking is found among the very poor in society and again among the uneducated in society. Mr. Speaker, taking this into consideration, as the hon. Member for North Dayi just said, that the last penny of the smoker will be used to buy a cigarette which in actual fact might be used for other important things.
Mr. Speaker, the medical expenses
accruing to the effects of smoking, on the individual's health are very high. For instance, the treatment of tuberculosis and other smoking-related diseases is free now and the nation is paying so much for this. Therefore, we need to advise our brothers and sisters who are addicted to smoking to stop in order that we can make enough money for the development of the nation and the provision of social amenities for the benefit of the people.
Mr. Speaker, one disturbing issue that we find now is that, most youth in the country are now associating themselves with smoking. Even students or pupils in JSS are seen smoking which is very bad and if we do not take this serious, a time will come when most of our youth will be in the habit of smoking.
Mr. Speaker, another issue of concern
is the habit of parents who are smokers, sending their children to go and buy the cigarettes for them. What are we teaching them? What kind of habit are we trying to inculcate in the children? This habit must be stopped and there should be legislation -- we are all envisaging the Bill to come to the House and all this should be taken into consideration. It is a very bad habit to send your children to go to the shop to buy the cigarettes. It is a very bad thing which we need not encourage.
Mr. Speaker, in concluding, smokers in
our rural areas are found to be among those who cause bushfires in the country during the dry season. And the kind of financial cost and the humiliations that bushfires bring to other people is very high and we need to see this as very serious and do something about it.
Once we are all fighting very hard to bring developments to our various communities, our societies and the nation as a whole, we should, at least, advise ourselves, our brothers and sisters who are in the habit of smoking to put a stop to it so that we can mobilise additional funds that we can use to pay the medical expenses, the purchase of drugs and other things for smoking-related diseases. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh (NDC --
Wa West): Mr. Speaker, I am very happy that I have been given the permission to contribute to these Statements made by an able lady and a gentleman. For the first time in making Statements, there is gender balance.
One of the things we should do is to
also pay tribute to those who have been campaigning relentlessly for people to stop smoking; and one of them is Prof. Akosah, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service. The others are the organisers of competitions like “Quit and Win” who say that if you quit smoking you will win something. Indeed, legislation alone cannot help us to solve the problem. If you look at even Members of Parliament who smoke, I am very happy to observe that they now hide. When they want to do so, they would go into some small corner or they would excuse you and go somewhere. [Interruptions.] Yes, I have proof; I have people among I have been campaigning here and telling them that it is dangerous for their health yet they continue to smoke. But this time when they are smoking, they hide.
The danger about smoking is not just the whitish thing that comes out of the nose or being sucked in or puffed out through the mouth. It is the content and these powerful manufacturers, those people who are making tobacco, are listening to all the noise we are making and are also devising ways and means of dodging the problem. What are they doing? Instead of producing cigarettes which we all know and can condemn, they have decided to introduce other products and put the same contents in there; and I am sure that if these products are not already in Ghana, they would soon be in Ghana.
They do not want to cause losses to their companies and fold up. So they refine nicotine, for instance, and put it in any drink and some other things and