Senior Medical Officer of Health with responsibility for Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (CNCDs), Dr. Kenneth George. (FP)

Tobacco continues to be the most important risk factor for the development of chronic diseases including many cancers. Yet, it is the single most preventable risk factor leading to premature deaths.

So says Senior Medical Officer of Health with responsibility for Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (CNCDs), Dr. Kenneth George.

Speaking on the eve of World No Tobacco Day, which is celebrated this year on Friday, May 31, Dr. George acknowledged that while Barbados had made some strides, particularly with legislation banning smoking in public places and the prohibition of the sale of tobacco products to minors, there was still much more work to be done.

"The effects are not only on the smoker but also on individuals who share the same immediate environment with the smoker. There is indisputable evidence that tobacco smoking causes lung cancer, chronic pulmonary disease and cardiovascular disease including heart attack and stroke.

"The theme for [this year’s World No Tobacco Day] is "Ban Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship"… [It] is very timely especially as the tobacco industry continues to try to engage the public at every level. Although there is no legislation with respect to tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, we as a country have over the years, let good civic responsibility prevail. This includes self-imposed restrictions on marketing and sponsorship within mainstream media and the vast majority of entities that comprise corporate Barbados. We must, however, continue to be ever vigilant of attempts by the tobacco industry to coerce our children, the media houses and persons in decision making positions," the CNCD specialist emphasised.

He further added that the Ministry of Health would continue to pursue a regulatory and legal framework which protected the population, particularly with respect to sponsorship, marketing and advertising.??

The Senior Medical Officer noted that the Ministry and the National NCD Commission of Barbados would continue to work with Barbadians to further reduce an already low prevalence of tobacco smoking.??

He thanked the many non-governmental organisations and civil society groups that have supported the Ministry in its prevention and control efforts over the years, adding that their contribution was "invaluable".??

"We are also very aware of the message of tobacco harm and the need for abstinence must be strongly conveyed to the younger members of our society who remain particularly at risk," Dr. George said.


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