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Stakeholder consultation on tobacco control


The Ministry of Health and Wellness has addressed the issue of tobacco consumption via a stakeholder consultation held at the National Mental Wellness Centre earlier this week.

Among the key areas discussed was a review of the Public Health (Smoking Control) draft regulations, and strategies towards tobacco control in Saint Lucia.

Joanna Joseph, Deputy Coordinator of the Substance Abuse Unit said tobacco smoke is a risk factor for non-communicable diseases.

“We are concerned about the indiscriminate smoking of tobacco that takes place in various public and work places, and the danger that it poses for our people especially with regard to NCDs in the Caribbean. We need to address these risk factors, and we are looking at our legislation to ensure that it is going to address that objective.”

The consultation comprised of a number of stakeholders.

“We have persons from the private sector, we have the Chamber of Commerce who is here represented, we have all of the health NGOs, medical and dental associations, cancer societies represented as well as other health NGOs, the ministries; Ministry of Equity, Ministry of Education, customs department and other stakeholders who have a role to play in ensuring that this initiative is successful, because we want to ensure that when someone lights up, they are not endangering the lives of other persons and we also want to encourage persons who do light up to stop and think about quitting cause there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.”

Chairperson for the Non-Communicable Disease Commission, Dr. Owen Gabriel, said every citizen has a prominent role to play in tobacco control.

“Everybody must be involved. This is not just a job for doctors or nurses or persons in health education. This is everybody’s business because everyone is affected. We need to find strategic ways of implementing mechanisms to reduce the importation of tobacco products and reduce the consumption of tobacco products, and look at ways to monitor how these interventions are working. So today’s session is very important because it brings together a diverse group of people who will see about doing that very thing.”

According to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, complacency will ensure that the death toll from tobacco will grow with each passing year. Tobacco remains a serious issue in Saint Lucia. Every year more than 100 people are killed by tobacco-related diseases, while more than 800 children and more than 14,000 adults continue to use tobacco each day.

The stakeholder consultation was held on Sep. 5.

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