The Ghana Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on Sarkodie to apologise to well-meaning Ghanaians for making smoking cigars attractive on social media.
According to CSOs, Sarkodie’s new brand images is likely to negatively impact the youth who see him as a role model.
A statement issued by Mr Labram Musah, the Director of Programmes of VALD, and National Coordinator of Ghana NCD Alliance, called upon the rapper to desist from sharing images of him smoking on social media. The statement reads, “We are very disappointed in Sarkodie for circulating pictures of himself smoking a cigar on social media without considering the negative influence this singular act stands to have on the public, especially the youth, most of whom consider him as their role model.
“We are also by this statement calling on the singer to render an apology to all Ghanaians, especially the youth, for such a distasteful act that has the propensity of changing the behaviour of our youth from good to bad and pledge to support and promote the health and well-being of all.”
The statement also reminded showbiz personalities about Ghana’s Public Health Act (Act 851) under part Six, which prohibits tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. It also prohibits the promotion of its products in the entertainment media.
“Smoking also increases the risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis and many more. The cost of treatment for these effects is very high, which sends the majority to their early graves and leads families into abject poverty. It is important to note that smokers have a high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to weak immune system as a result of smoking.”
According to the CSOs, Ghana is battling an increased rate of shisha smoking among the youth in second-cycle and tertiary institutions. It also adds that some countries have completely banned its use.
Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the world. An estimated eight million lives are lost annually due to tobacco use, and 600,000 people are killed by exposure to tobacco smoke worldwide.
The CSOs are the Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), the Ghana Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (Ghana NCD Alliance), Jaishi Initiative, Media Alliance in Tobacco Control and Health (MATCOH), and the Community Health Support Team (CHEST).