Jamaica will join the rest of the world in intensifying efforts against tobacco advertising and promotion on World No Tobacco Day on Friday, May 31.
The theme for this year’s commemorative activities is: ‘Ban Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship: Save Our Youth’.
Executive Director of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica and Board Member of the Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control, Deborah Chen, said the theme is timely, as tobacco companies are investing more into the marketing of their products.
Mrs. Chen, who was speaking at a JIS Think Tank on Wednesday, May 28, noted that the youth population is being increasingly targeted.
Executive Director of the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), Michael Tucker, stated that more sophisticated measures are now being employed by tobacco promoters to entice young people into smoking.
These include communal smoking where young people are invited to smoke from shared tobacco bowls and special pipes.
Statistics provided by the Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS) show that approximately 80,000 young people across the world become addicted to tobacco each day and if trends continue, an estimated 250 million children and young people will die as a result of tobacco smoking-related illnesses.
Mrs. Chen stated that the Foundation will continue to support the Government’s efforts to curtail smoking in public places through the anticipated passage of anti-tobacco legislation.
The legislation, she said, forms part of the multi-pronged approach aimed at protecting the public health of the citizens, thereby promoting a healthier Jamaica.
“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the world,” she informed, noting that it often results in the development of various cancers and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
In addition to legislative measures, she said there will be continued sensitisation of Jamaicans about the harmful effects of smoking.
The Ministry of Health is also looking at placing graphic health warnings on cigarette packages. Mrs. Chen pointed out that this strategy of adding graphics to cigarette packages has proven, in other countries, to be an effective deterrent to smokers.
Activities to mark the No Tobacco Day include a national forum at the Terra Nova hotel in St. Andrew; a road march and exposition in Annotto Bay, St. Mary; while students from high schools in Manchester, St. Catherine, Clarendon and St. Elizabeth, will participate in an “edutainment” session at the Ridgemount United Church in Mandeville, Manchester.
There will also be a youth forum at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Complex in Catherine Hall, St. James, which will focus on matters of advocacy for the banning of tobacco sales among the youth population.
Contact: Toni-Ann Rankine