Ministry of Health to incorporate Adventist's programme in national cessation plan
Nigel Coke, Contributor
The Ministry of Health, as part of its plan to have a smoke-free society, has engaged the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica to assist in its smoking cessation (quitting smoking) drive through the 'Breathe Free' programme launched by the church.
At a service to mark World No Tobacco Day held recently at the Family of God Seventh-day Adventist Church in Spanish Town, St Catherine, Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson said a big part of the Government's tobacco-control programme is the area of smoking cessation and improving access to such services.
"While some persons might believe that our position is just an anti-tobacco one, it is a pro-health. And while the National Council on Drug Abuse, the Heart Foundation and the Jamaica Cancer Society have been working assiduously, we recognise that in Jamaica today, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has one of the largest networks relative to the tobacco-cessation programmes, and this has been so for a long time," said Ferguson.
"My team has engaged in discussion with the leadership of the Adventist Church with a view of coming to a memorandum of understanding going forward," added Ferguson.
The World Church of Seventh-day Adventists has been in the forefront of the anti-tobacco campaign since 1863.
Since 1964, the 'Breathe Free' programme has been a major part of the church's smoking international cessation programme. This has already reaped successes in Jamaica.
"We believe with the Adventist network of churches across the country tied into our network and our primary health centres, we will be able to make a big difference in cessation aspect of tobacco control," said Ferguson.
Because the problem of smoking is a lifestyle one, the 'Breathe Free' programme is a holistic one involving mental, social, spiritual and physical preparations - a combination of group therapy, nicotine detoxification and lifestyle changes with a strong spiritual component.
During the service, Bancroft Barwise, treasurer of the Adventist Church in Jamaica, urged its members to continue the no-tobacco thrust as a sacred responsibility and to encourage non-smokers not to start the habit.
Barwise also urged the church to assist smokers to quit.