Barbados could soon be moving to ban all advertising of alcohol and tobacco products.
That was one of the measures put forward by Caribbean delegates to help in the fight against Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s), following a forum hosted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) at Hilton Barbados today.
Speaking during a press conference this afternoon at the conclusion of the two-day event, the island’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John told reporters it was an option that was currently being explored.
“That is something that we are also looking at. That’s also going to be on the agenda . . .” St John said.
When asked if any taxes or legislation would also be put in place on the importation of junk food, she replied, “When I hear you speak about taxes I would prefer that you direct that question to the Minister of Finance.”
Her comments came on the heels of statements made by Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Health and Environment Molywn Joseph, who explained that hard decisions would have to be made to stem the threat of NCDs in the region.
“It is time for action and some hard decisions will have to be made, such as banning all forms of tobacco advertising, replacing trans fat with polyunsaturated fats, restricting or banning alcohol advertising,” he pointed out, while acknowledging that NCDs were responsible for three out of four deaths in the region.
However, he said such decisions were easier to be made at the sub-regional level, rather than by individual states.
“Decisions like these are more effectively handled at the sub-regional level. We intend as a sub-region . . . and all the ministers have agreed to work together to pass legislation to deal with this matter.
“They have embraced the idea because we have found it easier to get legislation for parliaments when it is presented as a sub-regional legislation, rather than a national legislation,” Joseph noted.
Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands Rufus Ewing said the issue would be raised at the upcoming Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government Meeting in Barbados from July 2 to 4.
Dr St John did however reveal that Barbados would be moving swiftly to address the issue of obesity among children.
This, she said, included administering of nutritious foods and meals in schools through both the School Meals Service as well as private canteens.