Ja Psychological Society makes several recommendations for bolstering Tobacco Control ActSaturday, December 04, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Psychological Society has made several recommendations it wants the Parliament to consider for inclusion in the Tobacco Control Act .
The society made its comments and recommendations known this week, before the Joint Select Committee of the Parliament that is examining the Bill.
Among other things, it has called for clarification to the term “youth”.
“As mentioned on page 8 [of the bill], youth indicates ages 15 to 24. However, surveys done by the National Council on Drug Abuse have found that substance use/misuse starts as early as 12 years old, and in some cases younger,” the society pointed out in its written submission.
It has questioned whether the term was based on statistical data utilised to formulate the Act within the Jamaican context, or whether it was a general reference being used given the World Health Organisation's [WHO] definition of youth.
The psychological society also wants a framework to intentionally address precipitating/antecedent psychosocial factors for tobacco use. It said the framework is essential to understanding motivations for tobacco use and would provide the opportunity to establish informed approaches to reducing and preventing use.
It also wants a definition for 'second-hand smoke' with a revision of the five metre radius as protection from same. The society said consideration should be given for a communication strategy of “no-smoking” and “smoke-free” areas to include individuals of varying literacy and developmental levels and differing physical abilities. Additionally, it said emphasis should be placed on enforcing restrictions in environments where smoking is prohibited, for example school and university campuses.
The society has also made the case for guidance and support to be given to business owners to enhance compliance to space restrictions. To this end it said a robust mechanism is required to prevent business owners from circumventing policy while ensuring that equitable fines are applied for non-compliant businesses without adding burden to the current judicial system.
The society said consideration should be given to what it calls the licensing of “tobacconists”.
In this regard, it said “individuals or businesses that are legally permitted to sell and distribute tobacco products [should be] monitored similarly to those with alcohol permits”.
It explained that the licence would support increased accountability and positively disrupt the act of selling tobacco products to minors. It also wants collaboration of the Tobacco Control Act and the Child Care and Protection Act to facilitate the protection of children, regarding their purchasing of tobacco products on behalf of adults or even for themselves.
Meanwhile, the society has posited that a ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship while useful, is not enough.
“More attention is required to support behaviour change strategies through consistent and wide scale public education strategies,” it argued. It has also called for closer attention to be paid to the cultural factors that could influence the effectiveness of a ban on tobacco in the Jamaica context. The society also wants the findings of this closer examination of the cultural factors to be utilised to develop “informative public education/psychosocial strategies”.