By Devina Samaroo
Shadow Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony is urging government to stop pussyfooting and act expeditiously to bring the draft Tobacco Control Bill to the National Assembly.
Guyana joins the rest of the world in observing ‘World No Tobacco Day’ today, however the Parliamentary Opposition spokesperson on health believes that the country in lagging behind in its efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco smoking.
In an official statement on Monday, Dr Anthony expressed that the government should stop giving lip service to the need to introduce stricter legislation to clamp down on tobacco usage.
“Do tangible things to address this public health concern. We would like to know: what is government’s strategy for the prevention and reduction of tobacco smoking in Guyana? When would the draft Tobacco Bill, already drafted by the previous Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration, be brought to parliament?” he stated.
World No Tobacco Day 2016 is being observed under the theme: “Get ready for plain packaging”; and is aimed towards highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling on countries to get ready for plain (standardised) packaging of tobacco products, a method which restricts use of tobacco packaging as a form of tobacco advertising and promotion, limits misleading packaging and labelling, and increases the effectiveness of health warnings.
In this regard, Dr Anthony is urging government to comply with Article II (Packaging and Labelling of Tobacco Products) and Article 13 (Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship) of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) which recommended the adoption of plain packaging of tobacco and tobacco products.
The draft legislation seeks to make all enclosed spaces, public places, work place and public transportation smoke-free areas; ban tobacco promotion and sponsorship; ensure clear graphic warnings on all tobacco products with the warning picture being 50 per cent of the cigarette package; and ban selling cigarettes by and to minors.
Recommendations have also been made for there to be increased taxes on the product.