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The Jamaica Office of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) recognizes the efforts made by the Ministry of Health to protect the rights of local citizens to a tobacco free environment. Last week on National World Diabetes Day, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, committed to bringing the Tobacco Control Act to Parliament early in the next financial year. The legislation will include the banning of smoking in public and workplaces. In this regard, Jamaica will be positioned amongst the countries taking the lead in this area in the Caribbean.

PAHO/WHO sees this as an important move in keeping with obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which Jamaica ratified in July 2005. The treaty's provisions include rules that govern the production, sale, distribution, advertisement, and taxation of tobacco.  According  to Ms. Margareta Skold, PAHO/WHO Country Representative in Jamaica,  “This is a signal to the international community of the commitment of the Ministry of Health to honour the conditions outlined in the FCTC treaty. Furthermore, this commitment has also signaled a critical step in protecting the lives of thousands of Jamaicans exposed to tobacco smoke.”

The tobacco epidemic remains a serious public health threat across the world . Of the nearly 6 million lives a year claimed by tobacco, more than 600 000 are nonsmokers exposed to second-hand smoke. The detrimental effects of second hand smoke on health, including premature death, have been well documented.  As  Jamaica approaches festivities of the holiday season and new year,  PAHO/WHO stands with the Ministry of Health and other institutions working assiduously in tobacco control in the aim to create smoke-free environments for generations of Jamaicans to enjoy.

Links:   PAHO Tobacco Control http://bit.ly/QpWmh2;

      WHO Country Profile http://bit.ly/TcCies

For further information please contact Soroya Julian, Pan American Health Organization  (PAHO) Jamaica, Telephone:927-1540/41 or 970-0016 Email: julians@paho.org