ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Monday May 31, 2010 –A ban on smoking in government buildings in Antigua and Barbuda takes effect today.
This follows a decision taken by Cabinet in March.
The move also comes as countries around the globe observe World No Tobacco Day under the theme ‘Gender and tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to women’.
In a message to mark the day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged global action to protect women and girls against the sickness and suffering caused by tobacco use.
“The trends in some countries are extremely worrisome,” said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “Tobacco use is neither liberating nor glamorous. It is addictive and deadly.”
This year’s campaign theme focuses on the harmful effects of tobacco marketing towards women and girls and also highlights the need for governments to ban all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and to eliminate tobacco smoke in all public and work places as provided in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Although many more men use tobacco than women (women make up only about 20 percent of the world’s smokers), the WHO said there is evidence that the epidemic of tobacco use among girls is increasing in some countries and regions.
It said females are a major target for the tobacco industry in its effort to recruit new users to replace those who will quit or die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases.
“We know that tobacco advertising increasingly targets girls,” said WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health Dr Ala Alwan. “This campaign calls attention to the tobacco industry’s attempts to market its deadly products by associating tobacco use with beauty and liberation.”
Often the threat to women is less from their being enticed to smoke or chew tobacco than from their being exposed to the smoke of others, particularly men. Worldwide, of the approximately 430,000 adult deaths caused per year by second-hand smoke, about 64 percent are among women. Pregnant women, as well as their babies, are also vulnerable to the harms of second-hand smoke.
“By enforcing the WHO Framework Convention, governments can reduce the toll of fatal and crippling heart attacks, strokes, cancers and respiratory diseases that have become increasingly prevalent among women,” says Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative.
WHO has called on governments and the public to demand a ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; to support implementation and strong enforcement of legislation to provide 100 percent protection from tobacco smoke in all public and work places; and to take global action to advocate for women’s freedom from tobacco.