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Less lung cancer due to reduction in tobacco use

Published:Wednesday | November 23, 2016 | 12:17 AM
Yulit Gordon

The Jamaica Cancer Society is reporting that there has been a decline in reports of lung cancer, and that the trend is expected to continue with a reduction in the use of tobacco.

Executive director of the Jamaica Cancer Society, Yulit Gordon, said that the fall in numbers was reported in the last published report of the Jamaica Cancer Registry in 2010.

"There was a decline in the incidence of lung cancer from 25.4 per 100,000 for the period 1993-1997 to 18.6 per 100,000 in 2003-2007," she explained.

Gordon said that a downward trajectory in the use of tobacco is expected, augmented by the reinforcement of the Tobacco Control Legislation in July 2013.

She noted, however, that special attention needs to be placed on the youth, as the smoking trend for the 13-15 age group is in stark contrast to the declining figures.

The executive director cited a study conducted by the National Council on Drug Abuse in 2010, which indicated that the prevalence of smoking among Jamaican youth between the ages of 13 and 15 years has increased from 15 per cent to 24.9 per cent.

The study also revealed that Jamaican youth begin smoking as early as 13 years of age. It also showed that at least 44.4 per cent of students have smoked at least once; 31.3 per cent have smoked a tobacco product and 20.2 per cent have smoked cigarettes.

Gordon outlined the dangers of smoking by young people, explaining that the short-term health consequences of smoking include respiratory and non-respiratory effects, addiction to nicotine, and the associated risk of other substance abuse.

"Long-term health consequences of youth smoking are reinforced by the fact that most young people who smoke regularly continue to smoke throughout adulthood," she added.

She warned that tobacco use can affect youth activities and athletic performance as it narrows blood vessels and puts a strain on the heart. It also leads to a lack of oxygen and shortness of breath.

Gordon issued an appeal for parents, guardians, teachers, guidance counsellors and persons with influence to get informed about the dangers of smoking and to impart its impact, in order to discourage children from starting the habit.