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PAHO/WHO supports a smoke-free environment

Published:Friday | November 23, 2012 | 12:00 AM

The Jamaica Office of the Pan American Health Organization/ World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) said yesterday that it recognised the efforts made by the Ministry of Health to protect the rights of local citizens to a tobacco-free environment.

Last week, on National World Diabetes Day, Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson committed to bringing the Tobacco Control Act to Parliament early in the next financial year. The legislation will include the banning of smoking in public and workplaces. In this regard, Jamaica will be positioned among the countries taking the lead in this area in the Caribbean.

In a release, PAHO/WHO said it saw this as an important move in keeping with obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which Jamaica ratified in July 2005.

The treaty's provisions include rules that govern the production, sale, distribution, advertisement and taxation of tobacco.

signal of commitment

According to Margareta Skold, PAHO/WHO country representative in Jamaica: "This is a signal to the international community of the commitment of the Ministry of Health to honour the conditions outlined in the FCTC treaty. Furthermore, this commitment has also signalled a critical step in protecting the lives of thousands of Jamaicans exposed to tobacco smoke."

The tobacco epidemic remains a serious public health threat across the world. Of the nearly six million lives claimed each year by tobacco, more than 600,000 are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke.

Noting that the detrimental effects of second-hand smoke on health, including premature death, have been well documented, PAHO/WHO said it stood with the health ministry and other institutions working assiduously in tobacco control in the aim to create smoke-free environments for generations of Jamaicans to enjoy.