Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control Celebrates its 15th Anniversary

by HCC

Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco ControlThe Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control Celebrates its 15th Anniversary on World No Tobacco Day, May 31, 2017.

Every year, on 31 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners mark World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), highlighting the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

This year’s theme for WNTD is “Tobacco- a threat to development”. The WHO is imploring countries to be aware of the threats that the tobacco industry poses to sustainable development, including the health and economic well-being of their citizens, and proposes measures that governments and the public should take to promote health and development by confronting the global tobacco crisis.

THE Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control (JCTC), a tobacco control advocacy group, was launched Friday, May 31, 2002 on World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), and is celebrating its 15th anniversary. The organisation works closely with the Government, health and allied organisations as well as the media to encourage abstinence and prevention of tobacco use in order to attain and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The JCTC vision is for a tobacco free Jamaica, and its mission is de-normalizing the use of tobacco and all nicotine products and is in keeping with the goals of the WNTD campaign.

Goals of this year’s WNTD campaign are:

  • Highlight the links between the use of tobacco products, tobacco control and sustainable development.
  • Encourage countries to include tobacco control in their national responses to 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
  • Support Member States and civil society to combat tobacco industry interference in political processes, in turn leading to stronger national tobacco control action.
  • Encourage broader public and partner participation in national, regional and global efforts to develop and implement development strategies and plans and achieve goals that prioritize action on tobacco control.
  • Demonstrate how individuals can contribute to making a sustainable, tobacco-free world, either by committing to never taking up tobacco products, or by quitting the habit.

The JCTC is comprised of the following non-governmental organizations (NGOs):

  • Association of General Practitioners
  • Diabetes Association of Jamaica
  • The Caribbean College of Family Physicians – Jamaica Chapter
  • The Heart Foundation of Jamaica
  • Jamaica Cancer Society
  • Jamaica Dental Association
  • Jamaica Psychiatric Association
  • Medical Association of Jamaica
  • Nurses Association of Jamaica

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) which spearheaded the formation of this Coalition, has been acting as its secretariat.

The JCTC was formed to combine efforts of individual organizations to reduce the heavy burden on the health of the Jamaican citizen from tobacco use in relation to chronic ill-health disability and death and its primary objectives have been to:

  • Sensitize the public to the risks of smoking tobacco.
  • Monitor tobacco industry interference in tobacco control policy
  • Be an advocate and lobby group for related policy issues such as tobacco control legislation including the need for tobacco taxation.

Tobacco smoking is contributing to the increasing incidence of coronary heart disease and other diseases such as cancers of the lung, pancreas, kidney, bladder and cervix. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is also a smoker’s disease.

The Coalition has been working with its partners in several areas:

  • Advocacy for tobacco control issues
  • Resource to the Ministry of Health and  other stakeholders
  • Support efforts for timely tobacco legislation aligned with the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control
  • Supporting measures for tobacco cessation
  • Be a watch group for the control of messages that promote tobacco smoking

The activities of the Coalition have been guided by its motto:

Life is too precious to go up in smoke

The Coalition has received the cooperation of various sections of the media fraternity in its drive to inform the public about the ill effects of tobacco smoking and ways to minimize and prevent their impact on human life.

Over the years JCTC has worked closely with the Ministry of Health in Jamaica and has also had opportunities to undertake cooperative efforts with Ministries of Health in other CARICOM Countries.

The work of the JCTC has received international recognition and support and has had the opportunity to obtain and implement three projects which attracted international funding; one of which involved the combined efforts of NGOs in Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago and so complemented the efforts of CARICOM countries to provide meaningful written messages and pictorial images on cigarette packages designed to diminish cigarette smoking.

The Coalition, through its projects was also able to support the Ministry of Health in the successful promulgation of the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations 2013.

In this its 15th year, the JCTC is endorsing the WNTD theme and is asserting its determination to assist in reducing the massive burden on health, created by smoking tobacco on Jamaican citizens and other peoples wherever and whenever it is possible so to do, and to push for the enactment of comprehensive tobacco control legislation which includes bans on tobacco advertising promotion and sponsorship.

Read the report ‘Civil Society Led Tobacco Control Advocacy in the Caribbean: Experiences from The Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control’ here.