The purpose of this day is:
- To raise the awareness of all persons on the deadly nature of smoking tobacco and marijuana especially among the youth.
- To raise consciousness of the general population on the need for persons to protect non-smokers from second hand smoke.
- To assist those who have started smoking to stop
This year’s theme “Smoking: harmful in any form” pays particular attention not only to the effects of tobacco but also to the high prevalence of marijuana use.
The Ministry of Health is especially concerned about the high consumption level of marijuana among school aged youth. Data show that children and youth are a major target for the tobacco industry. Simultaneously drug dealers are developing a clientele among children and youth so as to increase popularity and longevity for use of their poisonous products.
The younger children are more likely to become regular users if they start smoking at an early age. Habit forming also leads to dependency and later addiction. The youth are very vulnerable and at risk to developing chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease which are the leading causes of death today.
The Ministry of Health will enact legislation to create Smoke Free Public Spaces as part of our obligations to and compliance as signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on tobacco control, the 2007 Port of Spain declaration and the political declaration of the High level meeting of the UN General Assembly in 2011. Dominica is also developing an anti-drug strategy which will focus on the reduction of marijuana use among the population.
However, this situation cannot be solved solely by the Ministry of Health as there are social and environmental determinants which impact on behaviour. This will require collaboration among all stakeholders to obtain positive outcomes. .
It is urgent that we as a nation be mindful of our individual and collective responsibilities to curb this trend of smoking—whether marijuana or tobacco products.
As individuals you need firstly to take control of your own health and refrain from smoking. Be educated about the dangers of voluntarily putting these poisons into your bodies. Be aware of the fact that second hand smoke whether it is from tobacco or marijuana is dangerous to people around you including your loved ones and friends.
As community members you can be your brother’s keeper and refrain from selling cigarettes or marijuana to the youth. Educate them also on the deadly consequences of these products.
School teachers, church and sports leaders, other youth and children’s organisations; you are the stewards of our youth. Strive to be better role models and positive influences to the youth. Set good examples. Do not use your children to purchase cigarettes or marijuana.
I call on the young people to:
- Get involved in a campaign to educate your peers, friends, and classmates.
- Join or form clubs to help support a smoke free lifestyle.
- Let us know how you feel. Smoking does not make you look cool..
I urge all Dominicans to join in observing Thursday May 31st 2012 as No Smoking Day.