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Alcohol next

Gov't now moving to put brakes on abuse of hard liquor

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 02, 2014    

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GOVERNMENT will now be turning its attention to controlling the consumption of alcohol as part of measures to prevent abuse of hard liquor, with the hope of reaping the success it did with the tobacco control programme last year.

"We are going to be tackling this problem by developing a national alcohol policy and we will be consulting with the various stakeholders, including the alcohol industry," Health Minister Dr Ferguson told the House of Representatives yesterday.

"I am referring to the type of drinking that is detrimental to health and has negative social consequences," said Dr Ferguson, who was making his contribution to the 2014/15 Sectoral Debate.

Ferguson said that the World Health Organisation has indicated that the "harmful use" of alcohol ranks among the top five risk factors for disease, disability and death throughout the world, as well as being a causal risk factor for more than 200 disease and injury conditions.

He did not give a timeline, however, for the development of the national alcohol policy.

Turning to his tobacco control policy, which will reach its first anniversary on July 15, Ferguson used the opportunity to pat himself on the back for giving Jamaicans the chance to breathe cleaner air and reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke.

"We can safely say that the regulations have been a major success," he told the House of Representatives.

He said that amendments to make the implementation easier were approved by Cabinet on June 2, tabled in Parliament on June 11, and gazetted last week.

"We extended the deadline for the transitional period to August 16 to give business operators a chance to put the required measures in place," Dr Ferguson told the House.

However, the health minister had a strong warning for business operators who continued to flout the regulations.

"I give friendly advice to hoteliers, club owners and other businesses that, after this date, if you continue to flout the law, you will be in for major consequences," he said.

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