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Story Highlights

  • The Government remains unrelenting in its efforts to make Jamaica a smoke free country, even as it amends the anti-tobacco legislation.
  • The Minister said tobacco use is chief among the factors contributing to the Non-Communicable Disease epidemic affecting Jamaica.
  • He pointed out that tobacco carries about 7,000 chemical substances, at least 59 of which are carcinogenic or cancer causing.

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson says the Government remains unrelenting in its efforts to make Jamaica a smoke free country, even as it amends the anti-tobacco legislation.

“I am very strident, my team is strident, because we know that controlling tobacco smoke in public space is good for Jamaica and we will not ease up. The regulations, while we tweak, still remains in place and we are strident going forward,” Dr. Ferguson said.

The Minister, who was the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of the US$2 million Soe Htwe Medicare Centre in Montego Bay on Sunday, June 1, said tobacco use is chief among the factors contributing to the Non-Communicable Disease epidemic affecting Jamaica.

“I have made it clear that my position is not just an anti-tobacco position, it is a pro health position. Any substance that is killing six million persons across the globe annually, 600,000 of whom are dying from just passive smoking (second hand smoke)… any product that when used as designed, kills 50 per cent of its loyal and faithful customers, cannot be a good product,” Dr. Ferguson said.

He pointed out that tobacco carries about 7,000 chemical substances, at least 59 of which are carcinogenic or cancer causing. “That cannot be a good product,” he said.

He informed that a Ministry of Health survey shows that the Tobacco Regulations of 2013, which are currently being tweaked, enjoy 83 per cent public support.

The next move, he said, is to enact a comprehensive bill that will take into account other issues affecting the industry such as illicit trading, tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotions, which are being dealt with in Article 13.

Dr. Ferguson informed that the government is now dealing with Article 5.3 that addresses relationship with the tobacco industry, as many public servants are not aware that the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control that Jamaica signed in 2003 and ratified in 2005, is a legal instrument that binds 175 nation states.

The two-storey Soe Htwe Medicare Centre located on Montego Bay’s ‘Hip Strip’, consists of medical offices and a pharmacy and is in walking distance from eight resorts. The investors are Burmese/Jamaican family physicians, Dr. Soe Naung and his wife Dr. Khine Naung, who have been practising medicine in Jamaica for more than 30 years.