Sat | Jan 28, 2023

Letter of the Day | Implement tobacco control legislation urgently

Published:Monday | January 23, 2023 | 12:35 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

The Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control (JCTC) would like to express its concern regarding the inordinate delay in the tobacco control legislation being enacted. Over 15 years ago, Jamaica embarked on a course to protect public health from the devastating impact of tobacco use in 2005 by ratifying the World Health Organization’s treaty – the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Since then, Jamaica, in 2013, implemented a ban on smoking in public places and prescribed the graphic health warnings to be placed on the packages of tobacco products. However, there is much more that needs to be done to protect the population, and the youth in particular, from these deadly products. The evidence-based steps necessary to achieve this are clearly outlined in the public health treaty, the FCTC, to which Jamaica is a party and has signalled its intent to be bound by the provisions.

The tobacco control legislation is currently under revision by a joint select committee (JSC) in Parliament. Unfortunately, there have been several delays which have significantly lengthened the timeline of the overall process. The last sitting of the JSC on the tobacco control legislation was on October 13, 2022, with agreed dates for the rest of 2022 being postponed. We are awaiting dates for the resumption and subsequent speedy conclusion of the deliberations.

Tobacco control legislation is an important tool to achieving the goal of reducing tobacco use in the population; especially among youths, who are vulnerable to the health and social effects of tobacco and e-cigarettes. Additionally, non-smokers will be protected from second-hand smoke, which can lead to chronic diseases in people who have never lit a cigarette in their lifetime. The Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control is urging the JSC to finalise its deliberations with a sense of urgency, so that the legislative process can be concluded, culminating in Jamaicans finally being protected from the scourge of tobacco use and exposure by comprehensive tobacco control legislation.

DR AGGREY IRONS

Chair, JCTC