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Ministry of Health hits back at Carreras

Published:Wednesday | October 9, 2013 | 6:05 PM

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

Ministry of Health officials have told a parliamentary committee, which is reviewing the ban on smoking in public places, that the cost of dealing with tobacco-related illnesses far outstrips taxes collected from cigarette companies.

Carreras, the leading marketer and distributor of cigarettes and tobacco related products in Jamaica, last week told the Human Resource and Social Development Committee of parliament that it contributes $11 billion yearly to the national budget, and 75 per cent of the National Health Fund budget.

However, in a stinging rebuttal before the committee today, the health ministry said that for every dollar collected in taxes, the government spends between $8 and $13 dealing with smoking relating illnesses.

Health ministry representative, Adrian Booth, said while Jamaica has not done any studies in the area, the ministry has extrapolated from research done in the United States.

Meanwhile, the health ministry officials said the ministry is not in support of calls for the removal of the requirement for every stick of cigarette to contain graphic health warnings.

They said the trade in single sticks represents a significant percentage of tobacco sales which includes sale to children.

In the meantime, Dr Eva Lewis Fuller, who also represented the ministry of health, said the tactics of the tobacco lobby has been one of denial distraction and delay.

Dr Lewis Fuller further said the players in the tobacco industry form a powerful network and seek to profit from their product at all cost.


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