Jamaica will join the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the rest of the Caribbean in observing World No Tobacco Day on Sunday, May 31, under the national theme ‘COVID is no joke, it gets worse with smoke’. This year’s theme focus on empowering young people in the fight against tobacco use especially during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Based on research, tobacco smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer in Jamaica, resulting in more than eight million deaths globally every year. Tobacco smoking combined with COVID-19, has a direct effect on the lungs which can lead to severe complications.
According to the 2000, Global Youth Tobacco Survey, among Jamaican school children (13 to 15 years old), the initiation of cigarette smoking prior to age 10 is high at 35.3%, while lifetime prevalence (ever smoked cigarettes, even one or two puffs) is also high at 33.8%. The current use of any tobacco product is moderately high at 19.0%.
As party to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Jamaica still has much more to do in its part to curtail the social interactions related to smoking, banning and penalising swiftly such actions in public spaces, ensuring the strict protection of our minors through prohibited access on all tobacco related products, and intense public education campaigning unique to culture and way of life of our youths.
We have come to acknowledge as a country, that we are in charge of an impressionable generation, -a young and vibrant society. Leadership on the path that protects the future health and prosperity of our youths is of utmost importance and priority of our nation.
SERHA will continue its mandate in ensuring we continue to meet, preserve and serve the most valuable and vulnerable- “our youths”. As the largest Regional Health Authority in Jamaica, we will meet the challenges ahead with fortitude and determination as victory is our goal.