Ban on public smoking a major achievement – Cancer Society
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.