a civil society alliance for combatting chronic disease in the caribbean

Healthy Caribbean Coalition - Rethink tobacco policy, PM

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First Published Jamaica Observer 13th April 2011 - Letters to the Editor. View original article here

Rethink tobacco policy, PM

Dear Editor,

This an open letter to the prime minister of Jamaica.

Dear Prime Minister,

The Caribbean Cardiac Society (CCS) views with deep concern the decision of the Government of Jamaica to use government lands for the expansion of tobacco production. As a signatory to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the Government of Jamaica has committed to initiate policies which promote the public health of the nation and not the enhancement of disease.

Tobacco use is responsible for over five million deaths annually and is well established as a leading cause of the growing epidemic of chronic non communicable diseases facing the Caribbean. It is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and cancer which, together with diabetes, are the leading causes of death and disability in the world.

The CCS is particularly concerned about the clear linkages between smoking and rising incidences of coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease and strokes among our patient populations.

At the Caricom Heads of Government meeting held in Port-of-Spain in 2007, the Government of Jamaica pledged to pursue legislation to implement the FCTC and thereby reduce the burden of chronic diseases within the Caribbean. It also pledged to "introduce such fiscal measures as will reduce accessibility of tobacco". It is clear that the Jamaican Government's decision to support the expansion of the tobacco industry is in direct contravention of this pledge.

The health of the Jamaican people is not solely the policy jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health. Indeed, we also call on the Cabinet, the Parliament and all ministries and agencies within the Jamaican Government to pursue policies that are congruent with the commitments made in the Port-of-Spain Declaration.

In keeping with this, the Caribbean Cardiac Society strongly supports the position of the Jamaica Coalition on Tobacco Control and calls on the Government of Jamaica and the Ministry of Agriculture to rethink its present policy on tobacco production. We also urge the rapid passage of comprehensive legislation relating to the FCTC and look forward to the day when the Caribbean will be considered a tobacco-free region, with its feet firmly placed on the path to being free from the burden of chronic non-communicable diseases.

Raymond Massay, MD, FESC

President Caribbean Cardiac Society

Suite 20, Seymour Park 2 Seymour Ave

Kingston 10

Original Article http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Rethink-tobacco-policy--PM_8663642

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