A Global Youth Tobacco Survey conducted between 2013 and 2014 has revealed that tobacco use among the school-aged population in Barbados is on the increase.
According to the survey, more than 15 per cent of students use tobacco, an increase of two percent since the last survey done in 2007.
As World No Tobacco Day is observed on Sunday, May 31, the Ministry of Health is working to implement the CARICOM Standard on the Packaging and Labelling of Tobacco Products, which will require graphic pictorial warning labels on all tobacco products sold in Barbados.
Additionally, Government is involved in a regional process to develop a regional standard for advertising, marketing and promotion of tobacco products.
In a statement to mark World No Tobacco Day, the Ministry noted that tobacco-related illness was one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, with approximately one person dying from a tobacco-linked disease every six seconds.
This was equivalent to almost six million people a year, and if action was not taken, this number was expected to rise to more than eight million people a year by 2030, with more than 80 per cent of these preventable deaths occurring among people living in low and middle income countries.
According to the statement, tobacco use was the leading risk factor for the development of lung cancer, throat cancer, cardio-vascular disease and chronic obstructive lung disease.??The statement maintained: ???The addictive nature of tobacco products suggests that our efforts should be aimed at preventing individuals, especially adolescents, from initiating the habit.???
The Ministry of Health uses multiple approaches to address this issue, including the prohibition of smoking in public places and the ban on the sale of tobacco to minors. In addition, Government has raised taxes on tobacco twice in the last five years.