THE EDITOR, Sir:
I write concerning the contentions which currently exist between the Ministry of Health, the Carreras Group, and other key players in the tobacco industry.
First, I am appalled by the Carreras Group's presentation to the Human Resource and Social Development Committee of Parliament regarding the ban on smoking in public places, as published in The Gleaner of October 9, 2013.
Because Carreras contributes $11 billion yearly towards the national Budget and 75 per cent of the National Health Fund, does it give it the authority to put the health of the general public at stake for the sake of gain? Certainly not!
Just as paying for my funeral does not give you the right to kill me, paying for my medical does not give you the right to 'ill' me.
To use such arguments to substantiate Carreras' grouses against the no-smoking ban is like saying, "Smoking makes people ill and leads to death, but at least we help you to cover the expenses; so give us a break." Our nation's health is more important than Carreras' wealth. Hence, we cannot succumb to such stealth.
Conversely, there is a high level of hypocrisy with regard to how the Government operates. On the one hand, we are grossly aware of the dangers of smoking, while, on the other hand, we allow people to consume tobacco in private, which inevitably leads to chronic illnesses and, no doubt, creates a burden upon taxpayers to offer health services to those affected by smoking. All this to say that smoking in private still costs the public.
Accordingly, the intricacies surrounding the issue of tobacco smoking are numerous, and except we take an all-rounded approach to dealing with them, those whose economy is affected by a no-smoking ban will always have fire to keep their profit-making cigars lit. If smoking kills, it naturally pays to kill smoking, not to restrict it to private places.
stance against crack cocaine
Moreover, let us take into consideration our stance against crack cocaine, for example. We know the dangers surrounding its usage; therefore, we make it illegal, not only to use it in public places, but also in private places; likewise, marijuana.
Consequently, a good health ministry focuses on the holistic health of the people, because healthy people lead purer lives, which inadvertently impacts a nation positively. Tobacco smoking, the consumption of alcohol and other health-threatening substances all bear upon our pockets, upon our well-being as a people, and upon our relationship with God. Thus, if we are going to take a stance for health, let us take a full one.
I leave with you the words of 1 Corinthians 6:20 from the Bible: "For you were bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which belongs to Him."
Minister of Religion