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Barbados has a low prevalence of tobacco smoking – 8.4 per cent – among the adult population. However, despite this, Government is concerned about the prevalence of smoking in the 13-15 year-old age group which, according to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2007, is reported to be 13.4 per cent.

Speaking at a Symposium on Tobacco organised by the National Committee for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Dependency at the Ellerton Primary School today, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, said this was a worrisome trend.

"…We have a particular problem with our youth. Furthermore, it is well known that persons who smoke during their teen years are more likely to progress into smoking as an adult. Let me take this opportunity to appeal to this nation’s youth to make wise decisions and be wary of peer pressure.??

"It is also opportune for me to caution you against the use of illicit drugs; which include marijuana, cocaine and cannabis.?? The effects of these substances can be mind-altering to the young developing brain and can lead to the development of psychological and psychiatric complaints in early adulthood," Senator Sandiford-Garner said.

She added that the symposium was timely, since it came at a time when Barbados had just submitted its report to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.?? This report outlines the country’s progress in respect of prevention and control activities.

The Senator said Barbados remained vigilant in terms of its tobacco control policies and programmes. However, she pointed out that Government was cognisant of the fact that it could not "rest on its laurels as there still remains much work to be done".

She cited the banning of the sale of tobacco products to minors – legislation to this effect was passed in 2010; the banning of smoking in public places – this legislation became law in October, 2010; the raising of import duties and other taxes on tobacco products and the removal of duty-free concessions on tobacco products at ports of entry, as areas of which Barbados could be proud.

Furthermore, Senator Sandiford-Garner disclosed that Cabinet had recently taken the decision to ascribe the same status of tobacco products to electronic cigarettes, also referred to as ???e-cigarrettes’.

An electronic cigarette is a battery powered tube containing flavourings, ethylene glycol and varying amounts of nicotine which may be inhaled from a vapourised solution. The user gets a puff of hot gas that simulates the inhaling of tobacco smoke and exhales a short-lived cloud of propylene glycol vapour that looks like smoke.

melissa.rollock@barbados.gov.bb

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