Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jamaican children lighting up

Source: Caribbean 360

Girls leading the list of new cigarette smokers while boys going for ganja. (File photo)

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Tobacco representatives in Jamaica have been known to give free cigarettes to underage youngsters in a bid to get them hooked.

This shocking revelation was made by executive director of Heart Foundation of Jamaica and project manager for tobacco control, Deborah Chen, as she commented on a 2010 survey that showed that more youngsters, especially girls, were being attracted to smoking despite all of the anti-tobacco agitators and programmes.

Chen also told local media that the survey revealed that girls were more tempted to try cigarettes while the boys were more likely to try ganja (marijuana).

Chen reportedly told attendees at a recent forum for editors of the Gleaner that the 2010 survey found that 28.7 per cent of Jamaica children between the ages of 13 and 16 were using tobacco products.

She charged that 90 per cent of smokers start before the age of 19 and then become addicted.

And she firmly placed the blame on targeted marketing by tobacco companies.

According to Chen, 52.6 per cent of girls saw pro-smoking advertisements and teasers in newspapers or magazines while 13.7 per cent of young people own objects with the logos of cigarette brands on them.

She said another 7.8 per cent were offered free cigarette by a tobacco company representative.

However, one Jamaican cigarette manufacturer has stated in its defence that it is working to ensure that its activities do not appeal to, or target children, and has voluntarily ceased advertisement in all media since 2002.

British American Tobacco Company subsidiary Carreras said in a recent media release that it was undertaking an active "Youth Smoking Prevention Campaign".

The manufacturer of such popular cigarettes as Craven “A” and distributor of popular international brands including Dunhill also claimed that it has removed all billboards from the Jamaican market since 2005.

Carreras has said that it supports the introduction of new legislation to curb tobacco use, but it wants a say at the police level.

"In the crafting and enactment of tobacco-control regulations, Carreras believes that in the spirit of continued partnership with the Government, the tobacco industry should have a voice," the company said in a statement released to mark 'World No Tobacco Day'.

"Only good outcomes can result from including the responsible tobacco industry in the policymaking process as well as consideration of the views, as well as any impacts on all effected stakeholders," argued Carreras.
"Our record of support for balanced tobacco control regulations which will reduce the health impact of tobacco use and address our stakeholders' concerns about tobacco products is impatient of debate," the company added.

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