SAACS Calls For Meaningful Action Against Public Smoking – St. Lucia Times

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

The Substance Abuse Advisory Council Secretariat (SAACS) has urged meaningful action by all against public smoking in a statement marking World No Tobacco Day, observed on May 31.

SAACS, a department of the Ministry of Health, Wellness, and Elderly Affairs, acknowledged that there has been a growing awareness and consciousness about tobacco use over recent years.

However, the secretariat noted that non-smokers are at risk from exposure to environments where tobacco use is habitual.

The complete SAACS statement appears below:

Our habits determine the state health of our people, our communities and our planet. The use of tobacco remains the single most avoidable health risk behaviour worldwide. Tobacco use has absolutely no health benefits. Rather half of all people who use tobacco die from some related health impact. Sadly, tobacco health risks do not only affect the user. Non-smokers are also at risk by simply being exposed to environments where tobacco use is habitual.

Given all these facts the question becomes how do we address this situation to protect health of all. In Saint Lucia, there has been consistent efforts to foster the needed supportive environment that can help in reducing the harmful effects of use of and exposure to tobacco.

This has been included the recent legislative change with the introduction of the Smoke Free Public Spaces in 2020. Legislation must be put into practice to have meaning and to have beneficial impacts. Our collective ownership and responsibility is the urgent action needed for this legislation to achieve its intended purpose.

The call to action is that all stakeholders do our part. When smoking is continued to be allowed in public places like restaurants, bars, entertainment and sports festivities, everyone is exposed to second-hand smoke.

This is of particular concern to people present who have chosen not to smoke. It becomes even more concerning when our minors, our children, are present and exposed to the harms of secondhand smoke.

By creating a culture of smoke free public spaces within our venues of rest and relaxation, during our festivals and festivities we can achieve an environment of protection and respect to the health rights of all.

Over recent years, even decades, we can fairly say there has been a growing awareness and consciousness about tobacco use. As the Ministry which is charged with protecting public health we have largely received a positive response from the various partner agencies and communities that we have engaged.

As we continue our efforts at awareness, advocacy and engagement, we ask all to boldly take meaningful action against public smoking within your various spheres of influence.

The health of any individual, community or country is largely influenced by the environment that is created for our daily living. So let’s encourage, let’s enforce, let’s engender a culture which eliminates tobacco use in the places and spaces we gather, mix and mingle.

May World No Tobacco Day become less of a yearly observation but transform into a commitment to healthy lifestyle practice.