Cayman joins World No Tobacco Day

Cayman is joining a worldwide
effort to protect women and girls from increased marketing by tobacco companies
as part of this year’s World No Tobacco Day.

Women comprise only about one fifth
of the world’s more than one billion smokers, making them especially vulnerable
as the tobacco industry look for new markets, said World Health Organisation
officials.

According to the WHO, this year’s
World No Tobacco Day, on Monday, 31 May, “will be designed to draw particular
attention to the harmful effects of tobacco marketing towards women and girls”.

Minister of Health Mark Scotland
said: “Even if tobacco companies try to portray smoking as glamorous and
sophisticated, it remains detrimental to one’s health. We must therefore
continually support and motivate friends and family to quit smoking.

“The plain truth is that smoking
kills and I hope that many will use World No Tobacco Day to make the decision
to quit.” Mr. Scotland said.

According to the WHO, generic
measures to control tobacco “may not be equally or similarly effective in
respect to the two sexes,” so the organisation is advocating that tobacco
control policies address the genders separately.

This year, it has launched striking
posters of glamorous women with mouth and throat cancers as part of its
hard-hitting campaign to discourage females from smoking.

“Women are a major target of
opportunity for the tobacco industry, which needs to recruit new users to
replace the nearly half of current users who will die prematurely from
tobacco-related diseases,” a statement from the WHO read.

Last year, Cayman joined the
growing number of countries and jurisdictions that have banned smoking in
indoor public venues. The smoking ban, as part of the Tobacco Law, came into
effect on 31 December, 2009.

National Drug Council statistics
show that females are less likely to smoke than males – a positive finding that
should stay that way, said the Health Services Authority’s Medical Officer of
Health Dr. Kiran Kumar.

About a third of the male adult
global population smokes.

“However, we must not be
complacent,” said Dr. Kumar. Globally, health officials are troubled by the
rising prevalence of tobacco use among girls.”

Dr. Kumar urged businesses, bars
and restaurants, where smoking is still permitted, to join the campaign against
smoking by banning smoking and the sale of tobacco products for this year’s
World No Tobacco Day.

According to WHO research, tobacco
advertising – which is prohibited in Cayman – is increasingly targeting girls.
Peer-reviewed studies show teenagers are heavily influenced by tobacco advertising.

Data from 151 countries show that
about 7 per cent of adolescent girls smoke as opposed to 12 per cent of
adolescent boys. In some countries, almost as many girls smoke as boys.

According to other studies, around
half of those who start smoking in adolescent years go on to smoke for 15 to 20
years.

The Cancer Society is offering
presentations to local businesses, schools, churches and other community
groups, submitting articles for print and holding awareness meetings as part of
its efforts to encourage people to stop smoking.

Earlier this month, volunteers were
trained to facilitate tobacco cessation/nicotine dependence support groups by
Dr. Elbert Glover, and thanks to this training, the Cancer Society plans to
begin a quit smoking group to support individuals who want to kick the habit,
but are having difficulty in doing so. 

In a message to the Caymanian
public for World No Tobacco Day, Mr. Scotland said: “Whilst World No Tobacco
Day 2010 will bring overdue recognition to the importance of controlling the
epidemic of tobacco use among women, we must also be mindful that our boys and
men still need protection from the tobacco companies’ advertising tactics.
Limiting everyone’s exposure to second-hand smoke in the home, at the workplace
or in public settings is clearly a good place to start.

“And there is no place for
procrastination for worldwide, approximately one in five young teens (aged 13 to
15) already smokes. Research shows that if you start smoking in this age group,
you are more likely to continue doing so throughout your life.”

He said the bottom line was that
smoking extracted a heavy toll on the heart and lungs and imposes huge long-term
costs. “With their devastating effect on health, smoking-related diseases kill
one in ten adults, severely taxing governments, families and individuals. Yet
in spite of these devastating impacts, people continue to smoke, putting their
lives, and the health of those around them, at risk with each and every puff,”
he added.

The minister said that smoking
should be addressed both on national and individual levels.

“In Cayman, the enactment of our
Tobacco Law has taken us a great step forward and I thank local businesses for
adhering to it. I also commend other local efforts to reduce the smoking habit,
such as the Cayman Islands Cancer Society’s free Quit Smoking Programme,” he
added.

Anyone interested in finding out
more about giving up smoking can contact the Cancer Society, at 949-7618.

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