World No Tobacco Day

Message from the Minister of Health and Human Services Anthony Eden

Tobacco addiction is a global epidemic that, directly or indirectly, impacts almost everyone in a community through its toll of disability, disease, lost productivity and death. It kills 3.5 million people every year around the world, according to the World Health Organization. That’s equivalent to about one-quarter of Cayman’s population – 10, 000 people – dying every day.

Tobacco addiction is a global epidemic that, directly or indirectly, impacts almost everyone in a community through its toll of disability, disease, lost productivity and death. It kills 3.5 million people every year around the world, according to the World Health Organization. That’s equivalent to about one-quarter of Cayman’s population – 10, 000 people – dying every day.

In our Islands, we are not immune to these impacts. Many people in our community also suffer from, and die from, diseases that have developed as a result of using tobacco products. The impacts are also beyond the user as tobacco addiction also negatively affects loved ones – through second-hand smoke, loss of income, or the pain of watching a family member’s health decline.

On 31 May, our country will join the international community in observance of World No Tobacco Day focusing on this year’s theme, Tobacco: Deadly in Any Form or Disguise.

There is often a misconception that when we speak of tobacco addiction, we are talking about cigarettes only. However, tobacco comes in many forms, such as cigars, leaf tobacco, chewing tobacco, bidis and clove cigarettes.

But through WNTD, and ongoing efforts by the Public Health Department, the Cayman Islands Cancer Society and the National Drug Council, Cayman is dispelling the smoke that tobacco companies are blowing. We are telling our people, especially our youth the truth – for example, that tobacco companies label products as ‘low tar’ or ‘light’ in order to lure new smokers and hang on to existing ones.

In addition to educating the public about the forms of tobacco, one of this year’s WNTD objectives is to raise awareness about the need for strict tobacco regulation. This is especially significant for Cayman, as comprehensive legislation governing tobacco, in line with the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, is now in its final stages.

The legislation aims to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco. Its overall goal is to make workplaces and public spaces smoke free which is in line with other countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and Australia who have all recently enacted comprehensive tobacco legislation.

The Ministry of Health considers our local legislation to be a significant, positive leap forward for the Cayman Islands. Indeed, WNTD’s underlying message is also positive: Choosing not to smoke, or quitting, is life-saving and the benefits of these choices are almost immediate. Healthcare professionals maintain that choosing to cease the use of tobacco is the only way to significantly reduce the risk of developing tobacco-related diseases. To this end, I want to thank the Cancer Society, the Department of Counselling Services and the Public Health Department for joining hands to launch the smoking cessation programme on WNTD. I also applaud their efforts in formalising this programme so it can be offered on a regular basis all year round.

This World No Tobacco Day should inspire us all to make healthy changes in our lives. Please join me in telling friends, families and co-workers about the dangers of tobacco use and let us all breathe a little easier today.

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