The Food and Drug Authority (FDA) has launched an intensified awareness campaign to enlighten senior high school students in the Eastern Region about the dangers of tobacco and substance abuse.
The Eastern Regional office of the FDA is spearheading this year’s campaign to raise awareness about the detrimental impact of tobacco and other harmful substances on human health.
Over 350 students from Manya Krobo Senior High School (MAKROSEC) attended the educational event titled “We Need Food, Not Tobacco” in commemoration of the 2023 World NoTobacco Day.
Addressing the students, Mr George Ampofo Ayeh, the Public Relations Officer for the Eastern Regional FDA, told them about the dangers to one’s health that were linked with the use of tobacco and the products made from tobacco.
He also advised the students against engaging in the use of any tobacco product since doing so would impede their ability to advance in the future.
He cited the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851), and more specifically section six, which addressed tobacco control measures, obligate FDA to always safeguard the public health and safety of Ghanaians.
Mr Peter Alordji, Senior Regulatory Officer of the FDA, Eastern Region, said tobacco products included hazardous substances, many of which are known to be harmful, and some of which are known to cause cancer.
“There are approximately 600 ingredients in a cigarette and when burned, it creates more than 7000 harmful chemicals that happen to cause cancer and other toxic,” he said.
In addition to this, he stated that if tobacco was a carcinogenic and toxic substance, then it would be necessary to persuade farmers who grow tobacco to instead use their land to cultivate environmentally friendly crops. Furthermore, he urged businesses to switch their production and supply chain from tobacco products to more food products in this time of widespread food insecurity.
He stated that tobacco products include an addictive ingredient called nicotine, which, when used, would result in the user being dependent on the drug for the rest of their lives. He urged the public and students in school to avoid using tobacco products.
Besides that, he advised students on the fact that the use of these goods and drugs does not improve learning, but rather damages the neurological system, which alters the reaction to stimuli and may result in mental problems and drug addiction, which can lead to becoming a pariah in society.
He further cautioned students not to be lured by flavors in shisha but to concentrate on the negative effects it could have on them when used.
He also expressed worry that, girls were now prone to the usage of shisha due its flavor according to research, which when taking continuously in an hour is equivalent to smoking 100 sticks of cigarettes.
Assistant Headmaster of Administration at MAKROSEC, Mr Joseph Tetteh Portuphy Akor, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the institution has implemented policies to address drug usage.
He praised the school’s extensive counselling system, which warns pupils about the dangers of using tobacco, Indian hemp, and other harmful substances, and helps rehabilitate those who are found guilty of substance abuse.