Honorable members of the Committee on Legislative have on Thursday the 31st of March 2022 held a pre-legislative hearing on the bill entitle “The Tobacco and Nicotine Control Act 2022.”

The main reason of legislating the Tobacco and Nicotine Control Bill is to mitigate the damages caused by tobacco and advance the Sustainable Development Goals in Sierra Leone thereby reducing the health burden caused by tobacco; improve health; saves coast; reduce air pollution; and protect aquatic animals, pets, and livestock.

Representatives from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation Dr. Santigie Sesay, disclosed to Members of Parliament that Tobacco use is very harmful to the health. He added that the chemicals in tobacco and tobacco smoke can cause damage to most of the body’s systems. He said tobacco use is damaging to teens because their bodies are still growing adding that, the chemicals in tobacco interfere with the process of growth and development.

He furthered that smoking leads to diseases, disability, and harms nearly every organ of the body. He added that for every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking related illness.

Dr. Sesay revealed that smoking also causes cancer of the Lung, Oral cavity, Pancreas, Larynx, Kidney, Esophagus. He emphasized that the large intestine linked to cancer of the large intestine and some forms of leukemia smokeless tobacco (chew tobacco, snuff etc.) is a major cause of cancer of the mouth. Between 2016 and 2018, he disclosed that 4,125 cancer cases were recorded in Sierra Leone, of which 3,002 died.

A representative form the World Health Organisation Reynold Senesie reaffirmed that Tobacco use kills over 8 million people every year globally, with 1.2 million being due to secondhand smoking.  He added that 37 countries have enacted tobacco control legislations that are aligned to the World Health Organisaiton standards; 7 countries had tobacco control laws developed before adoption are not fully aligned to the treaty; and 10 countries have not yet enacted tobacco control laws.

He, therefore, concluded by encouraging Member of Parliament and other relevant stakeholders to put more effort in the adoption of the Tobacco Control Bill soonest.

According to A-Z Newspaper, the object of this bill is to provide for the control and regulation of the production, manufacturing, importation, packaging and labelling, advertisement, promotion and sponsorship, sale and use of tobacco, tobacco products and other nicotine products, to provide for the improvement of public health harms caused by the use of, and exposure to, tobacco including nicotine, to provide for the incorporation of Sierra Leone’s obligations under the World.