By Ndey Sowe
The Directorate of Health Promotion and Education- Non- Communicable Disease Unit (NCD) Unit under the Ministry of Health has warned all those selling single sticks of cigarettes to refrain from it.
The authorities made this warning on Wednesday, 22 December, 2021 at a quarterly press briefing on their activities on tobacco control in The Gambia from October to December, 2021 held at the Central Medical Stores, Kotu.
This is part of a one-year project grant from the Tobacco policy Action Fund for Africa (ToPAFA) under the Management Health Sciences (MSH) in reducing tobacco use through Health Promotion and Enforcement of Tobacco Control (TC) Laws in The Gambia.
The project is in four phases and the second phase is on the verge of completion.
The project is looking at the following areas in TC; Graphic Health Warnings (GHW) on the tobacco products packaging; Ban on tobacco products advertising, promotion and sponsorship; 100% smoke-free public spaces.
Sainabou Barra Cham, Programme Officer Non-Communicable Disease Unit, highlighted the challenges they faced during the implementation of the project.
She outlined them thus: “Limited funds to strengthen enforcement and increase community outreach programs, weak enforcement especially in the Tourism Development Area (TDA), restaurants and bars, Sale of single cigarette sticks exposure to and by minors, and mobility constraints to conduct TC activities.”
Madam Cham also explained their activities for the next quarter include orientation meeting with shopkeepers’ associations, orientation meeting with markets and Lumo (weekly market) committees on TAPS, orientation meeting with film and production industry on TAPS, advocacy meeting with senior management of the relevant ministries, agencies and departments, commemoration of World No Tobacco Day, and Quarterly monitoring and Supervisory visits amongst other interventions.
Madam Cham said the activities implemented in the quarter under review are: “Nationwide caravan on the introduction of GHW on Tobacco packs in the Gambia, Orientation meeting with border security on GHs, Quarterly Monitoring and Supervisory visits, Quarterly media briefing, and Advocacy meeting with National Assembly Members (NAMs) on TC.”
What the law says on “TOBACCO SMOKE FREE ENVIRONMENT”: “Every person has a right to a tobacco smoke-free environment; A person consuming a tobacco product shall ensure that he or she does not expose another person to tobacco smoke.”
Comprehensive Ban on Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship indicates that all forms of tobacco advertisement, promotion or sponsorship including cross-border are prohibited.
It further states that a person shall not initiate any tobacco advertisement, promotion or sponsorship including cross-border promotion, and sponsorship, produce, publish, or make accessible any material for tobacco; or engage in any tobacco advertisement. promotion, or sponsorship.
The law states on Tobacco Product Packaging and Labeling that: “A person shall not import, manufacture, distribute, sell, or offer for sale a tobacco product unless the unit packet, package of tobacco product or outside packaging and labeling of such product conforms to the packaging and labeling requirements prescribed by the Minister.”
What the law means in practice: “text and pictures advertising health warnings shall appear together and shall occupy no less than 75% of the packet display. All tobacco products should conform to the regulations.”