Because Cayman’s laws as they relate to tobacco are so far advanced, Cayman is now able to be a party to UK legislation, something which highlights how far Cayman has come in strengthening its ability to control to tobacco.
At a press conference held on Wednesday, Health and Wellness Minister Sabrina Turner gave some background, advising that the Cayman Islands had become the first United Kingdom Overseas Territory in the Caribbean to request the extension of the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention of Tobacco Control legislation to Cayman.
“This convention is an evidence-based treaty that addresses another global pandemic that claims 7 million lives each year, that’s tobacco. I am happy and proud to say that this legal framework will allow us to develop and expand a more comprehensive approach to tobacco control that will pay dividends in strengthening the health and wellness of our population,” she advised.
Minister Sabrina Turner called this “a significant win for our country.”
Interim Chief Medical Officer Autilia Newton explained that the UK had for years been a signatory to this WHO international framework and so the UKOTs had therefore been asked if they wanted this legislation extended to their own territory.
“I am extremely proud that this government has managed to say yes we’re ready and we want to have the extension of the legislation here in Cayman because they are ready for it,” she said. “It’s not as simple to say yes we are ready for it; it requires modification of tobacco laws and all this work has already been done.”
Dr Newton referred to Cayman’s Tobacco Law of 2008 which brought in place strict laws on how and where tobacco could be sold and where it could be smoked.
“As you know, here in Cayman it is not possible to smoke in public buildings or on public transport - this is the effect of the 2008 Tobacco Law…so a lot of work went into that, into the pricing, the health warnings, the services that you have to encourage people to stop smoking,” she advised.
Dr Newton referred to the last set of data compiled on smoking, the 2012 STEPS survey, which revealed that more than 16% of the population were smokers, but that went up to 20% of the population when talking about men. At the press conference, Public Health’s Epidemiologist Rachel Corbett confirmed that they would be undertaking a new STEPS survey in 2023.
Dr Newton concluded by saying: “Cabinet has done an amazing thing as we are the first UKOT in the Caribbean and only the second UKOT across all the 12 UKCOTS to ask for the extension of this legislation because enough work has been done,” she advised. “That is something that is so important to protect the health of our residents.”