JIS News

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Fenton Ferguson, is urging members of the public to support the Government’s move to impose a ban on smoking in public spaces.

Speaking at an exposition at the Clan Carthy Primary School in Kingston on Tuesday, May 7, Dr. Ferguson said the effort is aimed at protecting the health of citizens, especially since surveys show that the nation’s children are partaking in unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking.

“The 2010 Global Youth Tobacco Survey undertaken by the National Council on Drug Abuse indicates that 40.4 per cent of youth age 13 to 15, has smoked at least once and at least 19.4 per cent of those who have ever smoked were under 10 years old. In addition, 70 per cent of the students surveyed indicated that they are exposed to second hand smoke,” he said.

He informed that six million persons are dying annually around the world from smoking and some 600,000 are dying globally from passive smoking, by just being in the presence of smokers.

Dr. Ferguson said the World Health Organization (WHO) also indicates that tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide.

“The Ministry of Health continues to stress the importance of health promotion and actions to counter the effects of lifestyle diseases. Exercise, good dietary practices, reduction in alcohol intake and a cessation of smoking are among the lifestyle choices that will produce the results that we want,” he stated.

The Health Minister reminded the children that smoking is neither “cute nor cool”, and appealed to them not to partake in the practice.

Dr. Ferguson said that his position on the matter is not an anti-smoker stance, noting that as Minister of Health, he has a responsibility to protect the wellbeing of Jamaicans.

The Government is seeking to put in place a Tobacco Control Act that will protect citizens from the harmful effects of tobacco smoking, by prohibiting its use in public areas and work places. The legislation is in the draft stage and is expected to be brought to Parliament this financial year.

Dr. Ferguson also urged the children to desist from partaking in alcohol consumption, pointing out that this is another unhealthy lifestyle practice.

The Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey 2008 indicates that 65 per cent of Jamaicans aged 15-75 years old, consume alcohol. The Jamaican Youth Risk and Resiliency Behaviour Survey 2006 reports that almost 50 per cent of youth used alcohol, with 10.4 per cent of males and 5.8 per cent of females reporting drunkenness.

The Minister said these behaviours can have negative long-term effects on health and wellness and may also indicate a need for some kind of social intervention and guidance for these children.

“I urge parents to be more involved in the life of their children. You have to support the work of the school and the Ministry. We cannot do it alone, strongly established partnerships with the family are needed to improve the current situation,” he stated.

The exposition was staged under the theme: ‘Get Educated…Eat Healthy…Live Wealthy’.

Contact: Chris Patterson