Address to the Nation on the Observance of World No Tobacco Day - May 31st, 2001
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Address to the Nation on the Observance of World No Tobacco Day - May 31st, 2001, by the Acting Minister for Health, Human Services, Family Affairs and Gender Relations

Fellow Saint Lucians, Tout Sitwayen peyi-a, Bon Swe,

It is with profound concern that I address you this evening on an issue, which is of tremendous Public Health significance.  Today, Saint Lucia joins the rest of the world in observing World No Tobacco Day, observed every year on May 31st.  This year, the World Health Organisation has chosen the theme, “Second hand smoke kills:  let’s clear the air”.

World No Tobacco Day is observed annually in order to heighten the level of awareness to the detrimental effects of tobacco consumption on the health of smokers and in particular non-smokers.  This year we address the important issue- that of second hand smoke.

A preponderance of scientific evidence shows that tobacco smoke contains approximately 4,000 chemicals, 40 of which are known carcinogens. These chemicals when inhaled have a deleterious effect on the body, resulting in cancers of various organs such as the tongue, lungs, pancreas, bladder, etc.  The pregnant woman who smokes may have the fetus adversely affected resulting in low birth weight, prematurity and when born is prone to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome commonly known as SIDS.

Second hand smoke is the smoke exhaled by the smoker as well as the smoke, which is given off from the top of the lighted cigarette.  What is disturbing about second hand smoke is that, as a non-smoker you are involuntarily inhaling a poisonous substance, which can cause cancer in your body, irritation and annoyance.  Is this fair?  Is this social justice?

Lanne sala, WHO, ka obzeve

Jounen San Fimen denmen twantenyen me.  Sa ki pli entewesan se mannye late-a ka mete antansyon asou lafimen ki ka afekta moun ki pa ka fimen.

Wechach ka moutjwe ki moun ki ka espiwe lafimen le fime a wis pou jwenn maladi kanse evek fanm ki ansent sa osi ped ti zanfan yo; enben fe ich yo avan le.

Fellow Saint Lucians, the World Health Organisation has recognised that tobacco consumption is responsible for more deaths that the dreaded AIDS disease and have estimated that unless tobacco consumption pattern changes, by the year 2030, 10 million persons will die annually from the effects of tobacco consumption.  The world is faced with a tobacco epidemic and Saint Lucia is part of that epidemic.

The Ministry of Health, Human Services, Family Affairs & Gender Relations in collaboration with WHO have decided to address this public health threat and are taking measures to reduce the prevalence of tobacco consumption and exposure to second hand smoke.  The instrument that will be used is a convention or treaty on tobacco control.  This convention is likely to come into effect in the year 2003.

The Government of Saint Lucia supports the general principles of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).  We believe that the FCTC will lay the foundation to protect our adolescents and children from the scourge of tobacco consumption.

It is the policy of my Ministry to adopt appropriate measures to control this public health problem.  It is with this in mind that the Ministry, in the near future, will establish a multisectoral committee, which will be mandated to develop a comprehensive programme to control tobacco consumption and protect non-smokers from second hand smoke.  This programme will be in congruence with the Framework Convention to Tobacco Control.  We are using this World No Tobacco Day as the platform to launch this sensitisation programme.

We also recognize that the campaign to control second hand smoke and reduce tobacco consumption must be addressed from a multisectoral approach.  It also requires the active participation of families who are well placed to protect siblings and non-smokers in the homes.

Already, the Government of St. Lucia has spearheaded initiatives to control the exposure of second hand smoke by declaring all health institutions Smoke Free Zone.  To date, we have seen private sector enterprises embracing this policy by also prohibiting smoking in their work places.  Taxi drivers and Mini-bus drivers have also taken the initiative to ban smoking in their vehicles.  I commend them for their efforts.

As a responsible government we will ensure that the health of the public is protected.  But government can do only so much.  Each individual, family and community must play an active role in protecting health and preserving life.  Government places a high value on life and we are committed within our limitation to undertake all necessary measures possible to promote health and well being and assist individuals, families and communities to work towards achieving the goal of a tobacco smoke free environment.

It is for this simple reason, fellow Saint Lucians, I need to inform you that second hand smoke is dangerous to the health of the smoker as well as the non-smoker and that smoking kills.

Gouvedman entewese an sante tout jan peyi-a ek se pou wezon sala nou ja deklawe tout plas sante kon lopital, Health Centre, Minis Sante se Zone Dan Fimen.  Nou an Gouvedman ka fe tout sa nou pe pou fe jan peyi konnet danje-a ki an lafimen le fimen.  Nou ka envite tout fami, konmin, lekol legliz, sendika eben biznis pou sipote campaign sala.

Today, I appeal to our youth who have not started to smoke, that they should at no time experiment or try to take a puff.  Because, one puff might result in another, triggering a response to continue and very shortly addiction sets in.  Tobacco, young people, is addictive.

To smokers, I appeal to you to quit the habit.  On, ki ka fimen mwen ka mandew.  Souple, doubout vye labitid sala.  Pusi domaj-la kay pli ho ki pwi sante’w.  Join the millions across the world who are beginning that journey today.  Whilst I understand the difficulty you face, I urge you to make a conscious effort today.  Now is the time to stop.  Destroy that butt.  For those of you seeking help, you may contact the St. Lucia Cancer Society or the Bureau of Health Education.

Fellow Saint Lucians, health is a resource for everyday living and tobacco consumption and exposure to second hand smoke severely compromises this resource.  So let’s clear the air:  second hand smoke kills.

Chonge sante’w se lavi’w….. Wespektey !

THANK YOU.  Mesi ek bon swe anko.

Hon. Michael Gaspard

May 31, 2001

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