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Tobacco fight keeps going up in smoke

Published:Friday | March 16, 2012 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I take note of the promise by Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson to ensure the passage of the long-delayed tobacco-control legislation.

While Minister Ferguson's promise is welcome, history prevents one from being too sanguine, given the many unfulfilled promises by others before him.

His immediate predecessor, Rudyard Spencer, was good at making such promises on the passage of the legislation, with even a specific date given on at least one occasion for when it would be introduced in the Parliament, only for none of those promises to be kept.

Jamaica has been a signatory to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control since July 2005, but we have yet to take serious steps to ensure full compliance with its strictures. It is full time now this be made right.

There has been an abundance of research studies on the many serious health effects associated with tobacco smoking. They include cancer, heart disease, stroke, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and impairment of normal bodily functions.

Such studies have also proven that second-hand smoking is as dangerous as smoking itself, so cigarette smoking affects a great number of us.

Despite the history of government (in)action on this matter, which has left me cynical whenever there is a government pronouncement on it, I sincerely hope Minister Ferguson will move speedily to bring a resolution to this pressing public-health issue.

KEVIN K.O. SANGSTER

sangstek@msn.com