Jamaica: Work On Tobacco Control Bill Progressing Well

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the work of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament on the Tobacco Control Bill is progressing well.

The Minister told JIS News that he has seen “progress” in the submissions from several interest groups and that the manufacturing company, Carreras Group, is scheduled to address the Committee.

“We are going through that process, and that is going well,” Dr. Tufton pointed out.

“There is general progress around what we all agree on, and what we may need to tweak a bit,” the Minister added.

Dr. Tufton said that at the end of the deliberations, Jamaica will have a “comprehensive legislation that is going to regulate how the tobacco trade is practised… how you enforce the laws, what are the fines, restrictions on activities like advertising, and smoking in certain places”.

Reform of the tobacco legislation is intended to help address issues associated with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.

These are caused by four major behavioural risk factors, including tobacco use, which is also the most preventable.

The law will also put Jamaica in a position to satisfy its obligations under the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Treaty (FCTC) and “generally restrict consumption of tobacco, because of the ill effects of consuming that product,” Dr. Tufton said.

According to WHO data, more than five million deaths worldwide are the result of direct tobacco use, and more than 600,000 the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. The Global Youth Tobacco Survey indicated that in 2017, in Jamaica, some 15.6 per cent of students (15.9 per cent of boys, and 15 per cent of girls) used tobacco products.

Additionally, tobacco kills more than eight million people annually and can lead to tobacco dependence and serious health problems, including poor reproductive health, cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cancer. In essence, tobacco use is harmful to nearly every organ in the body.

Source: Jamaica Information Service