JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Health, today (August 19), hosted a meeting with a team from the Secretariat of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
  • The meeting was arranged to gather information from stakeholders on the implementation of the Convention in their programmes, strategies and plans.
  • The parties are also examining the challenges and opportunities, and identifying gaps which require intervention. The session is part of a week of collaborative activities with the visiting team.

The Ministry of Health, today (August 19), hosted a meeting with a team from the Secretariat of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), to gather information from stakeholders on the implementation of the Convention in their programmes, strategies and plans.

The parties are also examining the challenges and opportunities, and identifying gaps which require intervention. The session is part of a week of collaborative activities with the visiting team.

Addressing participants at the meeting, held at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, Health Minister, Hon. Dr Fenton Ferguson, noted that the tobacco legislation which has been enacted,  is “only the beginning. We have lots of work to do to meet our obligations under the FCTC.”

He pointed out that the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations passed last year, came eight years after Jamaica ratified the Treaty. “We are getting ready to put in place a comprehensive Tobacco Control Bill, as well as put increased focus on satisfying many of the other requirements of the FCTC,” he informed.

Dr. Ferguson also noted that as part of the control agenda, the Ministry in April hosted a consultation on tobacco and trade, which is covered in the Convention. “We are concerned about the illicit trade in tobacco products and the impact it has on our economy and the health of our people,” he said.

The Minister told the meeting that direct and indirect sponsorship, advertising and promotion are of great concern to the Government, given the increase in the prevalence of young people starting to smoke at an early age.

“These are among the major areas that we wish to address in the short to medium term, but we are also imploring other stakeholders to put in place measures that would satisfy the obligations of the FCTC,” he said.

Meanwhile, Head of the Conference of Parties Convention Secretariat, WHO, Dr. Tibor Szilagyi, lauded the tobacco control measures implemented by the Jamaican government as “a great achievement,” noting that the Secretariat’s mission is timely, in determining the next steps.

In her remarks, PAHO/WHO Representative, Margareta Sköld, said while the progress made in countries across the region is commendable, the smoking epidemic, a major contributor to the increase in non-communicable diseases, will continue to spread in the Americas, unless implementation of the FCTC is significantly strengthened, through partnerships between the society and the government.

Ms. Sköld emphasised that the FCTC requires parties to develop, implement, periodically update, and review comprehensive national tobacco control strategies, programmes and plans.

She further noted that this requirement, and all others under the Convention, called for an approach that builds on coordination of efforts among government ministries, and collaboration with other interest sectors, such as civil society, academia, and the private sector.

“The joint assessment is therefore a critical step in strengthening discussions between the Government of Jamaica and committed parties, including financial institutions and development partners, on the concrete support needed to fulfill Jamaica’s FCTC obligations,” she asserted.

Participating Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government include: Ministry of  National Security; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce; Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining; Ministry of Finance and Planning; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Ministry of Youth and Culture; Bureau of Standards Jamaica; Fair Trading Commission; Consumer Affairs Commission; Jamaica Information Service; Office of the Prime Minister (Information Division); Jamaica Customs Agency; the Attorney General’s Department; Rural Agricultural Development Authority; Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel; the Broadcasting Commission; Public Broadcasting Corporation; and the Child Development Agency.