Religious leaders across Sierra Leone have made a passionate appeal to President Dr. Julius Maada Bio not to give his ascent to the Tobacco and Nicotine Act of 2022 to save the next generation.
On 3rd August, 2022, the Parliament of Sierra Leone unanimously agreed to pass into law the Tobacco and Nicotine Act of 2022.
During the engagement, religious leaders had the opportunity to be exposed to key provisions in the bill.
Religious leaders who graced the engagement made a wide range of contributions to the engagement and made a passionate call to the President to sign the bill.
Sheik A. Y. Kallay, who represented the International Open University, is of the view that cigarette smoking should be banned once and for all.
Sheik Kallay expressed disappointment at the security forces, for according to him, they that should be implementing the laws are also into cigarette smoking.
He further remarked that those who also make the law are into cigarette smoking, adding that there is a high level of hypocrisy in the country.
However, while Sheik Kallay appeals to the President to sign the bill, he remains determined to engage his congregation about cigarette smoking and the harm that is related to it.
Reverend Christiana Sutton- Koroma, was of the view that people must not wait for laws to be passed for them to protect their own lives.
“Don’t gamble your own lives,” she told fellow religious leaders in grief. Reverend Sutton-Koroma urged people to desist from things that will claim their lives.
She recounted that her late dad died as a result of a smoking-related disease. She maintained that despite the laws passed, it all depends on the individual.
Chairman, of “Kombra” Network, Dr. Rahmadan Jalloh, noted that even though the Koran does not expressly state that people should not smoke, but noted that whatever is good for the human being in Islam accepts, whereas, whatever is harmful the Koran does not permit it.
He further noted that Islam protects lives, adding that one should not destroy one’s life because the life does not belong to you. He said the Koran described smoking as a dirty act, noting that the Koran prohibits it.
He disclosed that Islam does not only condemn smoking itself, but the smell of the cigarette, adding that that smell disturbs the angels around us.
He remarked the Koran warns against anything that causes destroys the human body. He referenced the Koran which states that humans must use their hands to do better things.
“The Koran says anything that intoxicates a person is haram, he revealed.
He concluded on a note that smoking is an act of disobedience to God.
On the side of Christianity, Reverend Kelfala Daniel Kanu noted that tobacco cannot be traced in the bible, but mentioned that there are principles that the bible made mention.
He noted that the Bible, in the book of Hosea 4 verse 6; “My people perish because of lack of wisdom.” He continued that the Bible described the body as the temple of God, adding that people must honor it.
Lynton O.R.D Jones, who happens to be a Parliamentary Counsel and Legislative Drafter, explained in detail key provisions in the Act that the importers and other business people must follow. Lawyer Jones also pointed out the penalties attached, for those who may disobey the law.
Head of communicable diseases, Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), Dr. Santigie Sesay, revealed that tobacco-related products contain about 5,000 toxic substances, adding that the most dangerous compounds are nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide.
Dr. Sesay continued that tobacco causes various kinds of cancer in the human body, adding that tobacco kills half of those who smoke it. He added that smoking leads to disabilities and diseases, noting that it is harmful to every organ of the human body. “For anybody who dies of tobacco, it leaves 30 people with a serious illness,” Dr. Sesay disclosed.
Dr. Sesay also mentioned that 3,300 deaths in Sierra Leone are attributed to tobacco, noting that 900 of the above figures died as a result of second-hand smoking.
He revealed that 4,000 children between ages 10 and 14 years, whereas, 955,000 adults aged 15 and above use tobacco daily.