Saint Lucia recently joined the rest of the world in observing World No-Tobacco Day. The event, which was organized by the World Health Organization, has been held every year since 1987 and has the stated goal of discouraging the people of the world from using tobacco. This year’s observances are being held under the theme “Commit to Quit.”
In a panel discussion held to mark the occasion, Senior Medical Officer for non-communicable diseases, Dr Shana Cyr-Philbert, reminded the public of some of the dangers of tobacco use. “Smoking affects every organ in the body. Especially your respiratory system. Your body was not made to inhale smoke and so the whole immune system of your respiratory system is affected. So, smokers tend to be more prone to getting respiratory diseases like tuberculosis than someone who does not smoke.”
In 2019 and 2020, Saint Lucia enacted new legislation designed to reduce the number of public locations in which people can smoke. Deputy Director of the Substance Abuse Advisory Council Secretariat, Joanna Joseph-Henry, explained the intended benefits of the laws. “The big concern right now is to try as much as possible to reduce the exposure, the initiation of young people into tobacco use. The Public Health Act was revised to allow the control of smoking in public places. In workplaces, enclosed public places, as well as outdoor public places. So the purpose of all that was to reduce the exposure of individuals to tobacco smoke.”
The 2021 World No-Tobacco Day Observances also included the unveiling of a new mascot, named Luther Lung, which was designed by a student of the St Mary’s college.
by Jacques Hinkson-Compton.