The tobacco epidemic kills nearly six million people each year. More than five million are users and ex-users and more than 600,000 are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). After high blood pressure, tobacco use is the biggest contributor to the epidemic of noncommunicable diseases — such as heart attack, stroke, cancer and emphysema — which accounts for 63 per cent of deaths.
Smokers are more susceptible to certain communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia. Needless to say, this is not shocking since cigarettes are known to contain some of the most dangerous chemicals. These include: Carbon Monoxide, Arsenic (Poison), Methane, Butane (Lighter Fluid), Cadmium (found in Batteries), ammonia (toilet cleaner) and nicotine.
In Barbados, the percentage of traditional cigarette smokers is very low. However, we have noted an increase in persons who are showing interest in vaping and using Fanta. Some of the vaping juice contains nicotine and Fanta is wild tobacco. Sadly, our youth is increasingly being exposed to such harmful chemicals in the homes and the community.
As harmless as this may seem, the exposure to cigarette smoke and second-hand smoke not only will place our youth to acquire a noncommunicable disease but also will increase the healthcare costs in Barbados.
Such an increase in costs, with the majority of the workforce unable to work, can lead to either higher taxes or Barbadians paying for healthcare. Thus, the choices you make in your home affect every Barbadian. This is why the National Council on Substance fully endorses the passing of the law that prohibits the sale of tobacco to minors as well as smoking in public places.
For 22 years, the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) has been educating the general public on the dangers associated with tobacco use and has been lobbying for good health for individuals and their families.
We have partnered with various individuals, government and non-governmental organisations to increase awareness of the impact of tobacco use on the individual, family and society.
The NCSA was forefront in having the first mobile classroom in the region known as the Life Education Centre. This mobile classroom incorporated educational sessions on the dangers associated with tobacco use for children in classes 1 to 4. Additionally, our secondary school, parental and workplace programmes are being used as vehicles to get the message across to our audiences.
Over the years we have sat on local, regional and international committees to develop Programmes, Policies, and Anti-Drug Plans to help govern nations. So, it is no surprise that the NCSA is an active committee member of the 2020-2021 CARICOM Regional Committee for Regulations for Tobacco Products Advertising, Promotion, Sale and Sponsorship Standard (RTC).
The RTC is responsible for the development of Standards and Technical Regulations for tobacco advertising, promotion, sale and sponsorship. The focus of the Committee is similar to that of the NCSA, which is to protect human lives and promote healthy lifestyles.
As we observe World No Tobacco Day on May 31st, the NCSA adds its voice to that of the world to encourage users of tobacco products to Commit to Quit and those who do not use tobacco products to continue to make healthy choices.
For further information on tobacco or where you can get help, contact the National Council on Substance Abuse at (246) 535-6272; email firstname.lastname@example.org; visit our website at www.ncsa.gov.bb; or join us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.