High school students have been urged to say no to voluntary and involuntary smoking, in the drive to promote a smoke-free environment in Jamaica.
This message was given through various presentations at the fourth staging of the Jamaica Cancer Society’s Anti-Tobacco Youth Forum, held on February 20 under the theme: ‘No joking, no smoking- serious ting’, at the Girl Guides Association of Jamaica, in Kingston.
In his address, President of the Caribbean Public Health Association, Milton Pinnock, informed students of the debilitating effects that smoking has on an individual’s body, while noting that smoking weakens and incapacitates the lung.
“There is always residual air in your lung once you start breathing, and if that residual air is contaminated or polluted, that will create a problem in the lung,” he pointed out.
He informed the students that all the chemical components contained in the cigarette form a ‘sticky’ or ‘glue-like’ substance, often called coal tar, which ends up in the lung.
Mr. Pinnock emphasised that “smoking causes the elasticity of the lungs, that is the ability of the lungs to expand, to become very restricted, allowing the vital capacity of the lung to be impaired.”
He warns that this results in shortness of breath in persons who smoke, adding that smoking can also lead to the development of long and short term illnesses, due to the harmful carcinogenic chemicals that are in the cigarettes.
The illnesses include asthma, emphysema, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. There can also be a decline in physical fitness, increased production of phlegm, osteoporosis and cancer of the lung, throat and mouth; and respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Mr. Pinnock added that smoking can cause headaches, nausea and allergic reactions in the eyes, nose and throat.
The forum was held as part of the Cancer Society’s effort to promote a smoke-free environment and to encourage healthy lifestyles among Jamaica’s youth population.