THE EDITOR, Sir:
Kindly allow me some pertinent clarifications to matters raised in your Letter of the Day dated Monday, October 14, 2013 and titled: 'Ministry's smoking gun misfires'. The Ministry of Health, in its presentation to the Human Resource and Social Development Committee of Parliament on the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations 2013, on October 9, 2013, indicated that the direct and indirect cost of tobacco use is between US$750 million and US$1.3 billion. As we explained then, this is a crude estimate and aggregate numbers representing the economic burden of tobacco for the entire country.
In other words, the numbers represent the economic cost to the Government, the private sector, families, communities and individuals. This includes economic loss as a result of tobacco exposure, such as reduced productivity, disability, mortality, and the effect of any other impairment caused by tobacco use and tobacco exposure for the entire country. They encompass the cost of treatment for tobacco-related diseases, purchase of equipment to facilitate this, and all other asso-ciated costs.
No amount of financial justification will negate the argument that tobacco use is harming our people. For me, as health minister, the decision to ban smoking in specified public places represents one of the most far-reaching public-health decisions in decades. These regulations are geared to protect the health of children, workers, non-smokers, and even smokers, and that will continue to be my primary motivation. We recognise that there are issues with implementation of the regulations which we intend to address. Make no mistake, however, the regulations will remain as it is good for the health of our people and good for Jamaica.
HON DR FENTON
Minister of Health