Throughout the world on Tuesday, 31 May, more than 170 countries will take part in World No Tobacco Day.
The theme this year is the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – a treaty signed by 172 nations reaffirming the rights of people to the highest standard of health and providing legal dimensions for cooperation in tobacco control.
This treaty has been in force since 2005. Cayman, which is a party to the treaty through the United Kingdom that signed it in June 2003, introduced its own Tobacco Law in accordance with provisions of the treaty in December 2009.
Cancer Society supports initiative
“We will continue to support the World Health Organisation’s initiatives and are committed to raising awareness among the people of the Cayman Islands about these issues,” said Victoria Anderson, project coordinator for the Cancer Society.
“As part of our continued effort to bring awareness on the ills of tobacco products, we offer presentations to local businesses, schools, churches and other community groups, submit articles for print and hold awareness meetings. Through our free smoking cessation sessions, we also offer people help to end their addiction to tobacco,” she added.
The Cancer Society and the Health Services Authority will hold educational sessions in schools this week, from Monday, 30 May to Friday, 3 June. Recent statistics released by Cayman’s National Drug Council revealed that the percentage of middle and high school students who smoke is increasing.
The Society’s volunteers will also distribute No Smoking signs to local businesses across Grand Cayman during World No Tobacco Day.
“The Cayman Islands Cancer Society pledges to work with all relevant stakeholders to uphold this treaty to make every day a no tobacco day and make the Cayman Islands a better and healthier place to live,” said Ms Anderson.
“This destructive habit must come to an end but can only be accomplished if we unanimously muster the will and commit to the anti-smoking effort, not just on national levels, but individually as well,” she said.
This year’s World No Tobacco Day campaign highlights the importance of the treaty’s guidelines being met and of countries fully implementing the guidelines to protect present and future generations from the health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Leading cause of preventable death
According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide. This year, more than five million people will die from a tobacco-related heart attack, stroke, cancer, lung ailment or other disease, not including the more than 600,000 people – more than a quarter of them children – who will die from exposure to second-hand smoke.
The annual death toll of tobacco use could rise to 8 million by 2030, according to the WHO. Having killed 100 million people during the 20th century, tobacco use could kill 1 billion during the 21st century, the organisation estimates.
Cayman’s Tobacco Law includes provisions for protecting public health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry; protecting people from exposure to tobacco smoke; regulating tobacco product disclosures; warning people about the dangers of tobacco; banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and banning sales of tobacco to and by minors.
The World No Tobacco Day campaign aims to increase public awareness regarding hazards of tobacco use and abuse, inform consumers about the business strategies of tobacco industry and trade, spread the message about WHO initiatives for anti-tobacco campaigns, promote healthy lifestyle and habits among people and devise ways to protect the future generations from tobacco abuse.
Anyone interested in having a presentation from the Cayman Society should call 949-7618.