HEALTH MINISTER Dr Fenton Ferguson has called on the island's more than 27,000-strong teachers to support the ministry's assault on non-communicable diseases, especially those caused by tobacco use.
He made the appeal while addressing the final day of the Jamaica Teachers' Association's Travel and Wellness Club 2013 Getaway and Health Conference at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay yesterday.
The health minister said there was no way he could allow Jamaicans to continue to suffer and die at the hands of those who smoke tobacco in public spaces.
"Just about 70 per cent of preventable deaths between ages 15 and 74 years are attributable to non-communicable diseases. Tobacco smoke has over 7,000 chemicals known to man. Up to 69 of these chemicals are carcinogenic (cancer-causing), and that is found in the smoke that you puff as a smoker and the smoke that you inhale as second-hand smoke," he emphasised.
THIRD-HAND SMOKE DANGEROUS
Ferguson also warned against the dangers of what he described as third-hand smoke, which he said was just as deadly.
"This is the residue that is left after the smoke has cleared. It is deposited on clothes and surfaces and hair, and has 11 carcinogens.'
He said four out of every 10 teens puff their first cigarette between 14 and 19 years.
Speaking to the issue of cigarette being accepted socially as opposed to marijuana, which is illegal, the health minister said he would never in his right mind give permission to have tobacco as a legal substance for Jamaicans to use as a means of recreation.
In the meantime, Ferguson says while a parliamentary committee was assessing several aspects of the tobacco legislation, he would not allow the legislation to be derailed in any way.