Ban on pub­lic smok­ing a ma­jor achieve­ment – Can­cer Society

The Star (Jamaica) - - NEWS -

Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Ja­maica Can­cer Society ( JCS), Yulit Gor­don, is hail­ing the ban on pub­lic smok­ing as a ma­jor achieve­ment for in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions which have long ag­i­tated for such leg­is­la­tion.

She noted that as a mem­ber of the Coali­tion for To­bacco Con­trol in Ja­maica, the JCS was very in­stru­men­tal as part of a team that worked to bring about the ban. “We have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing first- hand the suf­fer­ing of Ja­maicans to the dif­fer­ent types of can­cer, and this ban has been a long time com­ing,” she stated.

Gor­don was speak­ing at a re­cent JIS think tank to mark Lung Can­cer Aware­ness Month, which is ob­served in November.

The ban, which took ef­fect on July 15 with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Pub­lic Health ( To­bacco Con­trol) Reg­u­la­tions 2013, has al­ready yielded re­sults.

Min­is­ter of Health Dr Fen­ton Fer­gu­son has re­ported a 20 per cent re­duc­tion in asth­matic ad­mis­sions to hos­pi­tals since the im­po­si­tion of the nosmok­ing pol­icy in pub­lic spa­ces.

Gor­don said that the young peo­ple also played a role in the effort, cit­ing the lob­by­ing of stu­dents of Cam­pion Col­lege.

She said the stu­dents, as part of their an­nual ‘ Kick Butts Cam­paign’ which en­cour­ages young peo­ple to speak up and take ac­tion against to­bacco use, took a pe­ti­tion to the Par­lia­ment to ban smok­ing.

“They, too, should be very happy to see this piece of leg­is­la­tion passed,” she said.

The ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor said it has been re­ported that chil­dren in Ja­maica are hav­ing their first cig­a­rette be­fore the age of 10. This in­for­ma­tion, cou­pled with the sci­en­tif­i­cally proven fact that to­bacco use is linked to most types of can­cers, paints a grim pic­ture for the coun­try’s fu­ture if the habit is not curbed.

Vol­un­teer with the JCS, Dr Aldyth Buck­land, who also ad­dressed the think tank, said that doc­tors are see­ing young peo­ple in their 20s with lung can­cer. This, she said, is alarm­ing as the dis­ease does not nor­mally man­i­fest it­self un­til a per­son is in their 60s.

She said it was quite likely that those per­sons were ex­posed to to­bacco smoke at an early age, pos­si­bly sec­ond- hand smoke, which is just as dan­ger­ous.

“To­bacco smoke is very dif­fer­ent from usual smoke. It has very tiny par­tic­u­late mat­ter, less than 2.5 mi­crons, which pen­e­trate deep into the tiny air­ways of the lungs and can cause mul­ti­ple toxic hits on the cells.

“This hap­pen­ing each day is go­ing to cause ma­lig­nant change, es­pe­cially over an ex­tended pe­riod of time. It is said that ev­ery 15 cig­a­rettes smoked causes one mu­ta­tion. Imag­ine some­one smok­ing a pack a day for many years. The risk in­creases the more some­body smokes. There is no safe level of ex­po­sure. Even one cig­a­rette is dan­ger­ous,” Buck­land warned.

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