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March 10, 2014
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Health minister says children influenced smoking ban

Nearly eight months since the implementation of the Public Health Tobacco Control Regulations, Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson says he remains defiant in protecting the welfare of Jamaican citizens, particularly children, from the negative effects of tobacco.

The minister, who was speaking at the JNBS Foundation-sponsored Anti-Tobacco Forum hosted by the Jamaica Cancer Society for high- school students, said the implementation of the ban on smoking in specified public areas was largely influenced by children, whom he cited as being most vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoking.

"One set of people who inspired that move was you," Minister Ferguson said. "It was about protecting the young people from the effects of second-hand smoke. And, it is reported that some seven out of 10 youngsters believe that smoking should be banned in public spaces."

Among the findings he revealed from a youth survey, conducted by the Ministry of Health, was that more than one out of five young people between 13 and 15 were currently tobacco users. This, he noted, is one of the prime indications that there was an increase in the prevalence of young smokers.

In support of Minister Ferguson's message that "smoking is bad for your health and wealth," Jamaica National Building Society Foundation's Grants Manager, Rose Miller, engaged the students in a financial literacy exercise.

Students were quite receptive to the information shared by the respective presenters at this interactive forum. A very competitive and enlightened set, they competed for prizes by successfully answering questions on areas addressed in each session.

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