Tufton seeks partners in fight against improper tobacco use

BY HG HELPS Editor-at-Large helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, July 30, 2016

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Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton has disclosed that his ministry is seeking the participation of Jamaicans in it mission to enforce The Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations Act, 2013, which is being breached daily.

Dr Tufton, in responding to a Jamaica
Observer article on the subject last Sunday, said that measures would be stepped up to ensure that there was compliance.

Former Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson, who disclosed that smoking would be banned in public places during his presentation in the Sectoral Debate of June 2013, last week bemoaned the fact that there was little or no compliance and urged the police to be more vigilant.

Official statistics were still not forthcoming from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, following a request made by the strong>Sunday
Observer on July 20, but checks made by the Sunday Observer showed that only two arrests had been made for breaches of the Act — three years after its coming in July 2013.

Dr Tufton, in a statement released through his communication and public relations department, maintained that the "Ministry of Health remains committed to the protection of workers, children, and the general populace from the harmful effects of exposure to tobacco smoke.

"We are aware that there continue to be some breaches of the prohibitions against smoking in specified public places, in contravention of the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations, 2013. The Ministry intends to scale up enforcement efforts to improve compliance. In this regard, we invite the public to partner with us and to support enforcement officers in their continued efforts to ensure compliance," the minister said.

Dr Tufton invited the public to assist law enforcers by identifying the events, bars, restaurants, beaches, and other places where the law is being flouted.

The information, the minister said, may be shared with the police, their nearest health department or via the Ministry of Health’s website –

Dr Tufton said that in addition, the Ministry of Health continues to remind proprietors, managers and lessees of places where smoking is prohibited, that they are responsible for the protection of their staff and patrons, and that they are bound by law to erect "No smoking" signage and to ensure compliance on their premises.

According to the most senior policy officer, the ministry continues to engage the relevant ministries, departments and agencies which share responsibility for enforcement.

"We are mindful of the need for close collaboration with the ministry of National Security and will continue to engage them to ensure more widespread enforcement.

"The ministry expects to garner greater insight into the impact of the regulations from a number of research projects which are either currently underway or anticipated to commence shortly. These include:

The Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease Initiative, spearheaded by the UWI, which has been in progress since 2014/2015. This is a global, multi-centred study which looks at the complications associated with tobacco use and exposure including its economic burden on society; the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey, undertaken every five years and due to commence in two to three months;

The Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions which started this month;

The Global Youth Tobacco Survey, which is currently in its preparatory stages; and the NCDA Study which looks at substance use in general among adults which is currently underway," the minister said.

Dr Tufton said that his Administration was not on a path of making adjustments to the Tobacco Control Regulations, but stressed that the island had a global obligation that had to be respected and honoured.

"The ministry has no intention to pursue any further amendments to the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations at this time. However, having undertaken extensive consultation with the relevant stakeholders, the ministry has taken steps towards fully meeting our obligations as a party to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control through the introduction of additional legislative measures," he stated.

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