Aug 11, 2017 News
– Minister emphasises
It is absolutely necessary that Guyana implement stringent tobacco legislation.
This is the opinion of Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, who yesterday pointed out that such a move is warranted, given the overwhelming impact that tobacco use has had on the society.
Evidence of the impact of tobacco use, the Minister said, is contained in Guyana’s country report. She was at the time making reference to the data in the Guyana 2015 Country Report, which details the findings of the Global Youth Tobacco Survey which was officially unveiled yesterday by the Public Health Ministry at the Kingston, Georgetown Marriott Hotel.
The survey is one that the Ministry conducted in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] and the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation [CDC].
“If we as a country were to fail to act decisively on the tobacco legislation, we will be leaving generations to suffer the dire consequences of chronic non-communicable diseases [NCDs],” Minister Cummings asserted. According to her, empirical data has shown that tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of most debilitating chronic non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension and a variety of cancers, including cancer of the cervix, the lungs and more.
It is however fortunate, the Minister noted, that moves are being made to treat tobacco use with the tremendous seriousness that it requires.
“Recently, as you know, the Government of Guyana piloted a comprehensive Tobacco Bill through Parliament to ensure that tobacco use is significantly reduced in Guyana, and to further mitigate its harmful effects to non-smokers exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke,” Dr. Cummings said
She added that with the passage and robust enforcement of the tobacco legislation in Guyana “we believe as a government and as a Ministry, the harmful effects of tobacco use will be significantly reduced over time, resulting in further reduction of the prevalence of certain chronic NCDs of which tobacco use is a critical risk factor.”
But according to Minister Cummings, the Ministry of Public Health recognises that a tobacco legislation enforced in isolation will not be enough to bring about meaningful behavioural and attitudinal changes towards tobacco use in Guyana. As such, she stressed the need for multi-sectoral collaborations, along with the involvement of civil society organisations, to help educate the population about the inherent dangers of tobacco use.
“If we are going to work towards significantly reducing and hopefully eradicating tobacco use in our society, it is important that we begin to target our youth population,” the Public Health Minister said.
She observed too that since empirical data reveal that most young smokers become adult smokers, “we all must work together to address the social, biological and environmental factors that influence young people to use tobacco.”
Minister Cummings underscored too that “collectively we must address the physiology of progression from experimentation to addiction, other health effectives of tobacco use, the epidemiology of youth and young adult tobacco use and evidence-based intervention that have proven effective at reducing both initiation and prevalence of tobacco use among our young people.”
The Minister noted that even as efforts are made to examine the content of the Tobacco Report, efforts must be made simultaneously to engage in coordinated high-impact interventions, including mass media campaigns and community level changes that can educate and protect the population from second-hand smoke and further promote norms that are effective in reducing the initiation and prevalence of smoking among youths.
“As conscientious citizens and health professionals, we must make every effort to educate our society about the dangers of smoking so that we all can enjoy a healthy life,” the Minister underscored.
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