A Global Youth Survey conducted among Bahamians teenagers has found that 13 per cent of them smoked tobacco.
But health Minister Dr. Duane Sands said the findings from the 2017 National Household Drug Survey revealed that 25 per cent of Bahamians between the ages of 12 and 65 years have at some point smoked, with males smoking about a four times higher rate than females.
Dr. Sands said there is a link between tobacco use and cardiovascular diseases including stroke, which when combined are the world’s leading causes of death.
He said the recent “World No Tobacco Day hits at the core of my Ministry’s mandate to ensure that the highest quality of services for health promotion, health protection and health care are accessible to all people of The Bahamas.
“Further, it coincides with a range of initiatives by my government aimed at not just treating the health ailments of the Bahamian people but also aggressively moving the paradigm more towards preventive medicine.”
The Health Minister said that the government is revising the Tobacco Bill that will allow for the monitoring of tobacco use in the country, better facilitate prevention policies; protecting citizens from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke by creating and increasing completely smoke-free indoor public spaces and workplaces.
He said it is also intended to strengthen partnerships for smoking cessation programs and other interventions as well as implement effective anti-tobacco media campaigns that inform the public, especially the youth, about the harms of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure and create a mechanism for the enforcement and levying of fines and penalties for infractions.
“My Ministry led a review process involving multiple health and non-health partners from October 2017 to January 2018, which informed recommendations and guidance to the Attorney General’s Office, who was given charge of reviewing the draft Bill. I look forward to submitting this to Cabinet and starting the process in the Honourable House of Assembly of passing this Bill,” Dr. Sands said.