Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the recently tabled Tobacco Regulations seek to advance the country’s efforts at implementing demand and supply reduction initiatives.
This is targeting tobacco products to further reduce the dangerous effects of tobacco use and exposure among our population.
In his message to mark World No Tobacco Day, which is observed globally on May 31, Dr. Tufton said that a whole-of-society approach is being encouraged to address this issue.
“If we are to be successful in reducing the harms associated with tobacco use, all hands must be on board for both adherence to the law and enforcement of same,” he said.
The Minister pointed out that the Government continues its efforts to align Jamaica’s legal tobacco framework with the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which has provided evidence-based control measures to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke since 2005.
Dr. Tufton said that Jamaica demonstrated a commitment to comprehensively implement demand and supply reduction initiatives targeting tobacco products, when upon recognising the burden of tobacco use and exposure on morbidity and mortality, Jamaica became the 73rd country in the world and ninth country in the Americas to ratify the FCTC in 2005.
He quoted statistics from the WHO, which indicate that the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than eight million people annually.
“More than seven million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use, while around one point two million are from non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke,” the Minister said.
Recent national studies by the National Council on Drug Abuse showed that 11 per cent of Jamaicans between the ages of 12 and 65 years are current tobacco smokers, while 30 per cent have used tobacco at some point in their lifetime.
The Minister indicated that among the secondary-school population, 13 to 15 years of age, approximately 36 per cent have reported the use of tobacco at some point in their lifetime, while 15 per cent have reported that they have used e-cigarettes.
Dr. Tufton said it is vital for the population to understand that all forms of tobacco are harmful and that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco.