Role of Public Health Inspectors in Tobacco-Control Efforts Highlighted

Photo: Claudia Gardner Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (right), presents the Public Health Inspector of the Year award to Damion Brown during the closing ceremony of the One Health: One Global Environment Academic Conference and Faculty Forum in Montego Bay on October 25.

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says Public Health Inspectors will be expected to play a significant role in tobacco-control efforts as the Government seeks to curtail tobacco-related illnesses on the island.
  • He said the Government is moving towards comprehensive legislation to mitigate the impact of marketing efforts by tobacco interests, through public education as well as specific regulations on branding and advertising.
  • He also expressed grave concern that tobacco companies are also employing strategies, including guerilla marketing, to target especially the lower socio-economic segments of the population, as well as through direct selling, and are also giving incentives to persons to sell cigarettes to others.

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says Public Health Inspectors will be expected to play a significant role in tobacco-control efforts as the Government seeks to curtail tobacco-related illnesses on the island.

Dr. Tufton was speaking at the closing ceremony of the One Health: One Global Environment Academic Conference and Faculty Forum held in Montego Bay on October 25. It was hosted by the Jamaica Association of Public Health Inspectors (JAPHI) and the International Federation of Environmental Health (IFEH).

He said the Government is moving towards comprehensive legislation to mitigate the impact of marketing efforts by tobacco interests, through public education as well as specific regulations on branding and advertising.

“Under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), the world is emerging with policy framework to guide and to support legislation, which requires enforcement, which is going to determine the extent to which the scourge of tobacco-related ailments affect our citizens, and public health in general,” the Minister explained.

Dr. Tufton said the enforcement of the ban on smoking in public spaces is not as successful as it ought to be, as there are smokers who still continue to “to light up where they want to”.

He also expressed grave concern that tobacco companies are also employing strategies, including guerilla marketing, to target especially the lower socio-economic segments of the population, as well as through direct selling, and are also giving incentives to persons to sell cigarettes to others.

“We have to be smart, because as we change the rules, intellectual capacity is applied to get around these rules. It is a constant struggle,” he said.

“We are going to need a collaborative approach, because the cost to treat with tobacco-related illnesses is huge, and, frankly speaking, tobacco companies – no matter what they say – are in the business of selling tobacco, and they are smart about it. I notice that, increasingly, advertising is taking place – we have to put a stop to that,” the Minister emphasised.

With respect to diseases, Dr. Tufton said, going forward, communication and people mobilisation will be essential in the health promotion and planning efforts and in the world’s response to emerging threats.

He argued that most of the outbreaks of major diseases in the world occur as a result of “inaction in the first instance”, making the continued vigilance by Public Health Inspectors key in prevention and control.

“Information is what will give you the advantage, and it must be used and assessed in such a way that allows you to say, ‘if we do not do something now, in a year’s time we are going to be in a serious situation’,” the Minister said.

“You are the key to that, because you are the ones out in the field, and you are the ones who see the signs and the symptoms. The breaches are going to be picked up by you – we depend on you for that in many respects,” Dr. Tufton added.

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