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Healthy Caribbean Coalition - Guyana moving forward in tobacco fight

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May 30, 2011 - Kaietuer News Online

…as World No Tobacco day is observed

Come May 31, Guyana will join the world in celebrating “World No Tobacco Day”. The day was designated since 1987. The focus for this year will be on implementing legislation that will protect the public from the hazards of smoking. Smoking kills almost 6 million people every year and the World Health Organisation is urging all its member states, including Guyana, to pass legislation that will reduce and prevent these deaths. Darshanand Rampersaud, Project Officer of the Caribbean Tobacco Control Project Guyana Chest Society has indicated that a legally binding treaty to curb the devastating global tobacco epidemic has had amazing successes in its six year. However, the International Community should integrate the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) into the global development process in order to accelerate and strengthen its implementation. According to Rampersaud, Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide.

It was explained that every year, 6 million people die from tobacco related diseases, these include, heart attack, stroke, cancer, lung diseases and other ailments. However, that figure still does not include the 600,000 people who die from exposure to second hand smoke every year, Rampersaud said. It was stated that the annual death toll could rise to 8 million by 2030, tobacco having killed 100 million in the 20th century; tobacco use could kill a further 1 billion in the 21st century.

The Guyana Chest Society, under the auspices of Caribbean Tobacco Control Project with partners in Jamaica and the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados and the Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society, has been supporting the project entitled “Implementing a picture based health warning system on cigarette packages,” which conforms with article 11 of World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world’s foremost public health treaty. The graphic pictures will show throat cancer and rotting teeth among other diseases related to tobacco smoking in an effort to reduce the smoking epidemic. Guyana will join more than 170 countries in embracing the treaty while reaffirming the right of all people to the highest standard of health and providing a new legal dimension for cooperation in tobacco control. Rampersaud said that the “The Chest Society” will continue its rigorous public education campaigns regarding tobacco use in conjunction with the Ministry of Health. To date, Rampersaud said that Guyana has ratified the FCTC and implemented designated smoke free areas.

In addition to this, Rampersaud disclosed that Guyana is well on its way to establishing more comprehensive tobacco control policies including additional smoke free spaces. The Regional Standard for Packaging and Labelling awaits approval at COTED, once approved Guyana should see implementation of the health warnings. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which are increasingly an obstacle to development, threatening the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015.

First published http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2011/05/30/guyana-moving-forward-in-tobacco-fight/.