KINGSTON – Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton is warning tobacco companies that are employing guerrilla marketing tactics to boost the sale of the harmful product — which claims the lives of seven million people annually — that tougher sanctions are coming.
He declared strongly that an end must come to advertising which is aimed, for the most part, at the poorer class.
“In Jamaica, I notice that, increasingly, advertising is taking place. We have to put a stop to that, and the legislation will. Targeting of certain segments in the population: Lower economic segments, lower socio-economic segments, in other words poorer people, through direct selling, through incentivising of persons to sell to others. In marketing, you call it a kind of guerrilla marketing strategy — it’s happening and you see the effects…” the health minister said.
“The tobacco companies, no matter what they say, are in the business of selling tobacco. And they are smart about it. They have resources and they engage intellectual capacity and the strategies have changed,” he continued.
He further noted that a collaborative approach is needed to combat tobacco use, because the cost to treat its related illnesses is huge.
Dr Tufton was speaking at the closing session of the Jamaica Association of Public Health Inspectors’ Annual General Meeting at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James, on Wednesday.
The conference was held under the theme: “One Health, One Global Environment”.
Meanwhile, Dr Tufton argued that a number of recommendations, which ultimately will lead to a regulatory framework that has to be enforced in terms of things like labelling, what is available in the school environment and sugary drinks, has come out of the recently approved National Food Industry Task Force report.
He noted: “We are now going through consultation with stakeholders” but that he expects that “that is going to meet, in some instances, a lot of resistance”.
“Frankly, we live in a world that, over time, has been influenced by short-term gain, even at the expense of long-term sustainability. And the development cycle and the immediate return cycle are not in sync. And so, as public health officials, we have to look long-term and we have to use the data to make that case and press forward,” the health minister said.