World No Tobacco Day 2021 Address

Photo of Dr. McIntyre, Minister for Health, Wellness and New Health InvestmentAddress by the Hon. Minister for Health, Wellness and New Health Investment on the Observance of World No Tobacco Day 2021.

My fellow Dominicans,
Today May 31st, Dominica joins the rest of the world in observing World No-Tobacco Day. In 1988, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to celebrate this day on an annual basis in an effort to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. On this day we re-affirm our commitment to empower and support tobacco users on their journey to quit under the theme "Commit to Quit".

Research has shown that globally, tobacco smoking causes over 8 million deaths each year and it is a leading risk factor for chronic non-communicable diseases. Evidence shows also that smokers were more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19 as compared to non-smokers. Smoking can cause damage to different parts of the body including the heart, lungs, kidneys, the eyes, the teeth and brain.

The consequences of heart failure, cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, all of which are the leading causes of death and illness in Dominica, can be reduced if you quit smoking. The Ministry is therefore encouraging smokers to Commit to Quit.

There are many reasons why one should quit smoking. When you quit you are reducing your chance of developing consequences of diseases that affect your entire system.

When you quit you are also eliminating the risk of non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke from developing lung cancer and other related diseases.

Previous surveys conducted showed that one in ten adults in Dominica is addicted to tobacco and one in four of our children have already been exposed to tobacco smoking. It has been recognized as well that children of smokers suffer reduced lung function which can continue to affect them in adulthood. Hence it is very important that you commit to quit for the benefit of yourself, your family and others.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and New Health Investment pledges its commitment to support you on the journey to quit. Since signing on to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FTCT) the Ministry of Health has championed the cause for increased legislation for tobacco control and promotion of good health.

Measures implemented thus far include increase in taxation on tobacco products, sensitization of the public on the ills of tobacco use and secondhand smoke, development of educational materials to include "Say No to Tobacco" booklet developed for primary school children, and reduction in smoking in public places.

Commit to Quit FlyerAs the Ministry joins the other countries in observing World No Tobacco day, the Ministry, through the Health Promotion Unit, will be undertaking key activities which include training of a cadre of Key Stakeholders in Tobacco Cessation Program, Development of a "Commit to Quit" pledge card/bookmark to empower smokers to quit, educational sessions at Secondary and Tertiary Institutions, and other private and public sectors.

As we continue to do public sensitization and advocate for smokers to commit to quit smoking, we ask you the smokers to avoid the use of tobacco and tobacco products.

Let us all affirm our commitment to support and encourage those who need to quit. Let us take measures to reduce our exposure to second-hand smoke. Let us decide to make the healthier choice today.

In conclusion, let me remind you, that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a formidable threat and there is an obvious link between smoking and this virus.

As previously mentioned smoking tobacco increases the risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19 or dying from it since Covid-19 is a respiratory disease and predominantly affects the lungs.

Having said this, I am also urging the public to take part in our vaccination programme and get vaccinated against COVID-19.

We must continue to be on guard and follow all the necessary protocols to remain safe in these trying times.

The Ministry of Health acknowledges its role in promoting health and wellness in Dominica. We look forward to engaging you, our partners and stakeholders, as we "Commit to Quit" and work together to create a healthier, tobacco-free Dominica.

Posted: 04/06/2021