Message from the Minister of Health & Wellness Honourable Sabrina Turner, MP
Today, the Cayman Islands joins the global community in observing World No Tobacco day.
World No Tobacco Day is celebrated every year on 31st May as a mandate of the World Health Assembly, the supreme decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). World No Tobacco Day informs the public about the dangers of tobacco use, the business practices of tobacco companies, what the WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic and what people can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.
This year’s World No Tobacco Day 2021 campaign aims to empower and support tobacco users on their journey to quit; using the theme “Commit to Quit”.
According to WHO, there is evidence to suggest that smokers are more likely to develop severe illness with COVID-19 compared to non-smokers. This has prompted millions of smokers to want to quit tobacco.
It is reported that direct tobacco use causes over 8 million deaths every year, with approximately 1.2 million of those deaths a result of non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke.
From our 2020 data here in the Cayman Islands, it is reported that the top three causes of death are circulatory system diseases: 30%; malignant neoplasms: 28.2%; and diseases of the respiratory system: 10.0%. Smoking is considered a significant risk factor in all three of these diseases.
Quitting smoking can be a daunting challenge, especially with the added social and economic stress that have come as a result of the pandemic. Of the 1.3 billion tobacco users globally, 60% have expressed the desire to quit – but only 30% have access to the tools to help them to do so successfully.
I am pleased to say that the Cayman Islands have already made significant progress with regards to providing a robust smoking cessation programme to improve community health, save lives and to reduce significant health care costs. With the passage of the Tobacco Act, 2008, the Tobacco Regulations, 2010 and the United Kingdom, a Party to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), it makes practical sense that interventions are in place to help those who want to quit.
The Public Health Department’s Tobacco Cessation Programme, aptly named “I Can Quit” provides opportunities to smokers in order to empower them to quit the addiction of smoking. This programme is done in collaboration with regular and ongoing support from the participants’ key healthcare providers. Over the past six years, the programme’s success rate ranges between 75% to a high of up to 100%. This has been a remarkable success given that international standards dictate the average success rate for any one sitting of a tobacco cessation programme is 20%. The programme is led by a team of highly trained staff including a certified tobacco treatment specialist who offers year round assistance to the public.
Additionally, the Public Health Department will begin work in the near future to implement a smoking cessation quitline; my Ministry supports this initiative wholeheartedly and it will be the first of its kind in the Cayman Islands!
I use this opportunity to applaud the Public Health Department’s continued efforts in supporting the Ministry’s mandate in achieving optimal well-being for all. I also wish to extend thanks to the Cayman Islands Cancer Society for the reintroduction of their smoking cessation efforts to begin in the coming months. These agencies are committed to helping you quit! Your greatest personal challenge will be to take the first step to a healthier you! I therefore challenge you - for those of you who are smokers; seek the help to quit today.
In closing, I acknowledge that every country has an obligation to protect the health of its people and I take this opportunity to thank the public for affording me the opportunity to serve as Minister of Health & Wellness. I promise to take all steps necessary to protect public health and to ensure that quality health care is available to all our residents and visitors alike.
May God bless these Cayman Islands and us all!