The Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) yesterday held a consultation with several stakeholders on the draft standards for “specification for the labeling of retail packages of tobacco products”.
The forum was held at Hotel Tower. During the consultation, presentations were made by several individuals including Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, a representative from the Demerara Tobacco Company and Ms. Ramrattie Karan, Head of the Standardization Department, GNBS. Ms. Jamela Ali, Attorney-at-law/Mediator of the Mediation Centre, delivered the opening remarks.
Ms.Ali noted that she was advised that there are some areas of conflict, concern and confusion as it relates to the packaging and labeling of tobacco products. As such, she expressed hope that the issues can be discussed with a view to arriving at a resolution as soon as possible. This, she said, must be within the framework of the WHO International Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the concerns of public health groups.
“Those concerns are the health consequences, the addictive nature and mortal threat posed by tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke,” Ali said.
She added that the well designed health warnings and messages on cigarette packages increase public awareness of the health effects and are therefore effective in reducing tobacco consumption.
“I have been told that prior to today, a draft Guyana Standard has been circulated and was produced from the draft CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality and the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” Ali noted.
In highlighting some features in the document, Ali said it specifies the information, method of display of the information, as well as the wording and presentation of health warnings to be displayed on individual packages of tobacco products intended for retail sale in Guyana.
“The broad goal is to ensure that every packet of tobacco products or cigarettes carry health warnings describing the harmful effects of tobacco use and may include other appropriate messages,” she said.
As it is now, Guyana is not a manufacturer of tobacco products, in particular cigarettes.
Meanwhile the forum was well attended, and saw at least one overseas manufacturer, local distributors of cigarettes, public health bodies, consumers, religious bodies, the private sector, youth groups, Guyana Chest Society, Guyana Cancer Society, Ministry of Health and other Government agencies and Ministries, NGOs, international organizations, PAHO and UNICEF, among others. (Jenelle Carter)
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