GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Every year, on 31 May, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) joins the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners mark World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), highlighting the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.
The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2017 is “Tobacco – a threat to development.”
According to information available to Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, tobacco threatens the development of nations worldwide, and WHO is calling on stakeholders to implement strong tobacco control measures.
A Sint Maarten study entitled, “Adolescent Health and Sexuality,” survey of 2013, revealed that approximately one third (35.9 per cent) of in-school participants had ever smoked, with all of these persons having first tried a cigarette under the age of 16. Around a quarter had done so over the past 30 days (23.1 per cent).
Tobacco use is a leading risk factor for Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes.
Action to stamp out tobacco use can help countries prevent millions of people falling ill and dying from tobacco-related disease, combat poverty and, according to a first-ever WHO report, reduce large-scale environmental degradation.
Measures being suggested by WHO include banning marketing and advertising of tobacco, promoting plain packaging of tobacco products, raising excise taxes, and making indoor public places and workplaces smoke-free.
Tobacco use kills more than 7 million people every year and costs households and governments over US$ 1.4 trillion through healthcare expenditure and lost productivity.
All countries have committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to strengthen universal peace and eradicate poverty. Key elements of this agenda include implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and by 2030 reducing by one third premature death from NCDs, including heart and lung diseases, cancer, and diabetes, for which tobacco use is a key risk factor.