Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, is urging increased awareness and action among the youth in resisting the harmful long-term health effects of the use of e-cigarettes and vaping.
In his message at the World No Tobacco Day Youth Forum at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday (May 31), Minister Tufton highlighted the worrying trend of vaping among young people, noting that “most of these devices contain nicotine [extracted from tobacco] which is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development”.
“Smoking tobacco products harms nearly every organ of the body including the lungs and can have deadly consequences not only for the user but for those exposed to second-hand smoke,” he pointed out.
The Minister, whose message was delivered by Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Paulette Spencer-Smith, further highlighted that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke cigarettes as adults.
He said that the Ministry is concerned about the increased reports of the use of e-cigarettes or vaping by youth and children and has heightened its focus on reducing tobacco use and ensuring healthy lifestyle practices.
“The impending Tobacco Control Act (2020) is a response to these realities and provides for us a tool to, among other things, curtail the promotion and sale of tobacco products to children while also prohibiting the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems, such as e-cigarettes, in public spaces and encouraging the cessation and reduction of smoking rates in the country,” he said.
He contended that it also delivers a clear message to the public of the harmful health, environmental, economic and social consequences of the use of tobacco and nicotine products.
Tufton cited statistics from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey, which indicates that 2.6 per cent of students (2.8 of boys, and 2.5 per cent of girls) use smokeless tobacco.
He also pointed to reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), which indicate that, each year, more than eight million deaths worldwide are as a result of direct tobacco use and approximately 1.2 million are attributed to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
“These are not statistics to which we can turn a blind eye and certainly not when we consider the vulnerability of our young people. The Global Youth Tobacco Survey tells us that for Jamaica, in 2017, 15.6 per cent of students used tobacco products,” the Health and Wellness Minister said.