Much more is needed in tobacco use and control

Much more is needed in tobacco use and control

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Today, Tuesday, July 7, marks 15 years since Jamaica ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) — the only global public health treaty. And, while much work has been done, much more is needed to protect our population from the ravages of tobacco and nicotine use.

The FCTC addresses tobacco control measures, such as increases in tobacco taxes; comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; environmental protection; public education; bans on the sale of tobacco products to minors; and the all-important matter of protecting public health policies from the vested interests of the tobacco industry.

In 2013 Jamaica implemented the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations, which called for smoke-free public spaces and workplaces, regulation of contents and emissions of tobacco products and disclosure of ingredients, and 60 per cent graphic health warnings on cigarette packets.

Since then, we have seen steady increases in the prevalence of youth smoking and vaping, general exposure to second-hand smoke, and with the COVID-19 pandemic and its reported links to increased risk of death in smokers, a looming public health crisis.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) has drafted comprehensive tobacco control legislation which would address all the articles in the FCTC and protect the population according to the highest international standards. The Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control supports the MOHW in this move, and urges swift action to implement comprehensive tobacco control legislation.

In the meantime, we would remind all Jamaicans to protect themselves from exposure to tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Individuals who wish to quit smoking may contact the National Council on Drug Abuse at 876-564-HELP (4357). As we continue to work towards a tobacco-free Jamaica, please be reminded that life is too precious to go up in smoke.

Dr Aggrey Irons


Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control

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