A further 80% of the more than 1 billion smokers worldwide live in low and middle income Countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest.
He said since 2008, progress has been made and with technical support from WHO a National Tobacco Control Taskforce was established and a lot of work to put things in place to come up with laws to reduce the use of tobacco in Sierra Leone.
Mr Conteh explained that after the ratification of the tobacco bill in June 2010, the dissemination of the FCTC assessment report was done in February 2014, and a national tobacco control communication strategy has been developed. Still however work is in progress to meet the target of 2017 to get the tobacco control bill domesticated, after being tabled before Parliament.
The Program Manager furthered that a lot has also been achieved to reduce tobacco cultivation, but revealed that the current smoking population percentage rate in the country is higher than the percentage in Africa.
Lending a voice to the session, a representative from Health for all Coalition, a civil society group on health commended Government and the World Health Organisation for the move to work together to have a tobacco bill that is yet to be domesticated, but called for more political will and commitment to see how best to tailor policies, especially on surveillance, noting that only 1 in 3 countries representing one third of the world’s population, monitors tobacco use by repeating nationally representative youth and adult surveys at least once every 5 years.
Representing WHO’s communications unit, Aminata Kobe informed the gathering that her organisation is committed to fighting the global tobacco epidemic, and the WHO framework convention on Tobacco Control which entered into force in February 2005.
She maintained that the frame work convention is the organisation’s most important tobacco control tool and a milestone in the promotion of public health.
Madam Kobe stressed that every person should be able to breathe tobacco-smoke- free air, and its laws protect the health of non-smokers, are popular, do not harm business and encourage smokers to quit.
She confirmed that over 1.3 billion people of the world’s population are protected by comprehensive national smoke-free laws.
World Health Organisation report states that tobacco is a legal product, which kills up to half of its users globally, and 5 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use.