The African Network for Information and Action Against Drugs (RAID), on Tuesday held a one day forum on the WHO frame work convention on Tobacco control at Pirang Village, Kombo East. This was ratified by the National Assembly on the 5th June 2007.
As part of the tour, similar fora will be held in all the constituencies of the five regions of The Gambia.
The effective implementation of the WHO framework convention requires collective participation. Therefore, it could be said that this nationwide advocacy would enable the compilation of the views of the general public which would go a long way in minimising the impact of tobacco in our societies.
In his keynote address, Honourable Lamin F Bojang, the Speaker of the National Youth Parliament of The Gambia said the convention is basically talking about how to reduce the consumption of tobacco across the world, noting that the convention itself first came into The Gambia in 2003. These activities have been banned in The Gambia since 2003 when the tobacco act was revealed by the National Assembly.
Bojang further explained that RAID is going all round the country to hold consultative meetings with the people through sensitizations on the WHO framework convention for them to understand. According to him, it is the believe of RAID that anything ratified pertaining to their intervention areas must be implemented.
“It is also a fact that we have all accepted that tobacco is a problem. The number of people who smoke in The Gambia is on the increase and for the young people, tobacco is an entry point into drugs and substance abuse”, he said.
He concluded by advising the participants to refrain from tobacco and to extend the information gained to the grass roots.
For his part, Samboujang Conteh, Director of RAID, The Gambia, said his agency is greatly concerned about tobacco. Thus, he said, the main objective of RAID is on drug control, trafficking and consumption.
According to Mr. Conteh through RAID’s exercises over the past fourteen years, they have realised that many young people are increasingly indulging in smoking cigarettes, cannabis and hard drugs and if nothing is done about tobacco control, the organisation cannot achieve its objectives in the field of drug prevention and education.
Mr. Conteh clearly told the participants that it has been written on cigarette parkets that “Smoking is risky to one’s health”. He said if this convention is to be fully operational, all packets of cigarette in the country will be either 50%, or 0.7% covered with the information that tobacco is harmful.
He mentioned that many people have even recommended that pictures should be included to show the damages tobacco inflict on the heart.
According to Mr. Conteh, RAID has had a memorandum of understanding with the State Department for Interior and the State Dpartment for Health and other institutions with which they share the same objectives.