JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The findings of a 2010 NCDA survey indicated that students, aged 13 to 15, had smoked
  • 60 percent of respondents surveyed indicated that they are exposed to second hand smoke in public places
  • The government has committed both regionally and globally, to safeguarding the nation’s health

Greater health safeguards are being urged for Jamaica’s young people, if the goal of a healthier nation is to be achieved and sustained.

This urging comes from Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, who laments the prevailing “worrying trend” of young people engaging in harmful habits such as smoking.

Speaking at Friday’s (September 6) launch of Caribbean Wellness Day 2013, at the Rooms on the Beach Resort, in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Dr. Ferguson noted the findings of a 2010 National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) survey, which indicated that, during and up to that period, students, aged 13 to 15, had smoked.

Further, that the number persons who smoked, during the 10-year period between 2001 and 2010, increased from 15 to 24 per cent. Additionally, that 60 percent of respondents surveyed indicated that they are exposed to second hand smoke in public places.

“This is something that we have to urgently address. We can’t afford to foster a generation of sick people with a plethora of non-communicable diseases. This is why the ban on smoking in specified public places is one of the most far reaching public health decisions that we have made in this country, as tobacco smoking has been linked to cancers of almost every single organ of the body; and (it) is also linked to many other conditions such as heart attacks and strokes,” he stated.

Dr. Ferguson pointed out that the government has committed both regionally and globally, to safeguarding the nation’s health, and reducing premature deaths caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25 per cent by 2025. Observance of Caribbean Wellness Day 2013, he added, is one such commitment.

“It is my hope that we use the opportunity to place the gravity of NCD’s on the national agenda, promote behavioural change towards healthy living, in particular (reduced) smoking, and establish partnerships with private and public sector organizations (to this end). We hope to have the involvement of young persons throughout the day, to help us spread the message of healthy lifestyle among their peers,” he said.

Dr. Ferguson also reiterated that although the Ministry is currently engaging in dialogue on and evaluation of the ban on smoking in specified areas, the stipulation remains in effect, in accordance with the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations 2013.

Persons having queries or seeking clarification on the ban can call the Ministry’s hotline at 1.888.537.688, or 967-0306. They can also send emails to huttonv@moh.gov.jm oradrianb@serha.gov.jm.

Jamaica will observe Caribbean Wellness Day 2013 on the Saturday, September 14, with a slate of activities at the Ocean Village Shopping Centre, Ocho Rios, St. Ann, under the theme: ‘Love your body, treat your body right’.