Tobacco Control Regulations
Ghana has always retained the political will to accelerate the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC)(Singh et al., n.d.). This convention was first ratified in 2004 and since then Ghana has made significant strides in tobacco control through the passage of the Public Health Act (Act 851) 2012 and the Tobacco Control (TC) Regulations, 2016 (L.I. 2247). Part six of ACT 851 and the TC regulations have attempted to operationalize the WHO-FCTC within the context of Ghana, with considerable success and some room for improvement (Ali. 2018).
Tobacco Policy Acceleration
Considering the multifaceted and complex nature of tobacco control, the FDA with the support of the WHO has continually undertaken various projects tailored to the advancement of tobacco control policy design and enforcement. More recently, the FDA in partnership with WHO embarked on a national project to sensitize law enforcement officers on the existing tobacco control provisions whilst identifying control barriers peculiar to the various regional groupings. This approach was necessary for realizing the knowledge gap and lack of strong inclusion in tobacco policy implementation from other law enforcement agencies which significantly impeded effective tobacco control in Ghana.
The project set off with a high-level meeting which saw participation from key law enforcement groups including Ghana Health Service (GHS), National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), the local government (i.e., the municipal, district and metropolitan), military, police, customs, judiciary, tourism, and security outfit, among others.
RESULTS AND LESSONS LEARNT
The main outcome of this meeting was the development of a tobacco control enforcement plan which defined the framework for regional participation in tobacco control.
In addition, various inter-agency partnerships relevant to tobacco control were proposed. The FDA/Ministry of Tourism collaboration is one such proposal. This aims to ensure that upcoming recreational units are in conformance with the tobacco control stipulations.
In line with the outcomes of the high-level meeting and objectives of the acceleration project, the FDA embarked on a national tour to establish regional taskforces for tobacco control and disseminate the FDA strategic direction for tobacco control.
The regional training was spearheaded by the various FDA regional offices and included representatives from the Ghana Health Service, NIB, Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana Education Service, Ghana Immigration Service, National Security, Ghana Police Service, Ghana Army, Economic and Organized Crime Office, Ghana Prisons Service, Ghana Tourism Authority, Judicial Service, Narcotics Control Commission, Traditional Authority, Ghana Standards Authority, Religious Bodies, and the Media.
Challenges to Tobacco Control
The regional interactions unearthed various tobacco control challenges cutting across the three geographical belts of Ghana. Prominent amongst the challenges were citizens’ apathy in tobacco control and the lack of centers for tobacco cessation at primary healthcare units.