By Ndey Sowe
The Medical Research Council The Gambia (MRCG) has indicated in its finding that there is 5.2% prevalence of smoking in The Gambia, and men comprise the greater percentage of smokers.
“There is 5.2% prevalence of smoking in The Gambia and men comprise the greater percentage of smokers, while among non-smokers, there is a moderate level of awareness of the regulations that prohibit public smoking. 85% of active smokers are aware of the regulations,” the findings indicated.
According to the findings, there is 63% prevalence exposure to second hand smoking outdoors while indoors amounting to 52.8%, and the level of person smoking is higher among urban than rural Gambia, with men exposed than women.
These and other revelations came on Monday, 15 November, 2021 in a stakeholders’ meeting, where the Medical Research Council (MRCG) The Gambia published findings of the “Public Health Survey on Tobacco Control in The Gambia.”
The stakeholders’ meeting was meant for the publication of research findings by MRCG on exposure to second hand smoking in public places and barriers to the implementation of smoke free regulations in The Gambia.
One of the significant findings was that, awareness of the regulations that prohibit public smoking is significantly higher among current smokers, and there is a need for public awareness on the regulations that prohibit public smoking.
Professor Umberto D’Alessandro, the MRCG Director, said when he saw the burden of tobacco related diseases, he thought that this was a good opportunity for The Gambia to start or expand what was there; adding that the MRC Unit is going to further expand its work on non-communicable diseases.
Momodou Gassama, World Health Focal Person on Tobacco Control in The Gambia, emphasized some of the challenges faced by tobacco control.
“Africa is losing 10.7 billion US Dollars every year as a result of tobacco,” he stressed, adding this is where we need science and without science, we will not be able to argue. Mr. Gassama described the event as critical.
Modou Njai, the Director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health, applauded the multi-sectors on tobacco control committee members for the research findings, and assured that the findings will be implemented across the country to ensure that the fight on tobacco is reduced in The Gambia.
“The research will help my ministry to re-strategize tobacco control intervention in The Gambia,” Mr. Njai said.
The research obtained over four thousand respondents in 2020, and facilitated through the project called: “The Tobacco Control Capacity Programme,” a multi-count research consortium comparing many institutions in Africa, Asia and the United Kingdom.