A recent global survey shows that tobacco use among the school-aged population in Barbados is on the increase.
According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted between 2013 and 2014, more than 15 per cent of students use tobacco — an increase of two per cent
And as Barbados prepares to join the international community in observing World No Tobacco Day on Sunday, the Ministry of Health is working to implement the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Standard on the Packaging and Labelling of Tobacco Products, which will require graphic pictorial warning labels on all tobacco products sold on the island.
Government is also involved in the development of a regional standard for advertising, marketing and promotion of tobacco products.
In a statement to mark World No Tobacco Day, the Ministry noted that tobacco-related illness was one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, with approximately one person dying from a tobacco-linked disease every six seconds.
This is equivalent to almost six million people a year, and if action is not taken, this number is expected to rise to more than eight million people a year by 2030, with more than 80 per cent of these preventable deaths occurring among people living in low and middle income countries.
Tobacco use is the leading risk factor for the development of lung cancer, throat cancer, cardio-vascular disease and chronic obstructive lung disease.
“The addictive nature of tobacco products suggests that our efforts should be aimed at preventing individuals, especially adolescents, from initiating the habit,” the Ministry said in its statement in which it pointed out that multiple approaches had already been taken, including the prohibition of smoking in public places and a ban on the sale of tobacco to minors. In addition, Government has raised taxes on tobacco twice in the last five years.