Parents encouraged to tap into Jamaica Cancer Society programmes to prevent youth smoking

Kingston, Jamaica, January 4, 2017 – The Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS) is encouraging Jamaicans, particularly parents, guardians, teachers and counsellors to tap into its programmes that have been implemented to assist with the prevention and cessation of youth smoking.   In an interview with JIS News, Executive Director of the JCS, Yulit Gordon, highlighted two programmes that the organization has embarked on to deter young people from smoking.

The Fresh Start Smoking Cessation Programme is one that is offered by the JCS in association with the American Cancer Society to help smokers quit.   “This is a comprehensive four-session group based course that covers topics such as Nicotine Addiction, Managing Withdrawal Symptoms, Weight Control, Stress Management, Recognizing and Planning for Possible Obstacles to Quitting, Staying Tobacco Free and Enjoying Being a Non-smoker,” she explained.  In addition, she said that an Anti-Tobacco Youth Forum has been established to target Jamaican high school students, to educate them on the dangers of smoking.

The forum, which is held in February each year, seeks to educate the youth about the harmful effects of tobacco smoking which kills more than five million people each year.  A wide variety of presentations are made to the students and teachers who attend to increase their knowledge of the effects of tobacco smoking.

Past presenters include Pulmonologists, officials from the Caribbean Public Health Association (CARPHA), counselling psychologists and representatives from the Tobacco Control project.  Presenters have used material from the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) Biology syllabus, in an effort to allow students to make the connection with what they have been taught in school, as well as to clarify any myths associated with tobacco-related illnesses.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Gordon outlined the dangers of smoking by young people, explaining that the short-term health consequences of smoking include respiratory and non-respiratory effects, addiction to nicotine, and the associated risk of other substance abuse.  “The long-term health consequences of youth smoking are manifested in the fact that most young people who smoke regularly continue to smoke throughout their adult years,” she said.

She added that tobacco can affect youth activities and athletic performance as it narrows blood vessels and puts a strain on the heart.  It also leads to a lack of oxygen and shortness of breath she said, while pointing out that it has been proven that athletes who smoke do not perform as well as those who do not.

The JCS is encouraging persons to get informed about the dangers of smoking and its effect on the health and well-being of their children and students.   “It is also important to make time to communicate with them on matters of peer pressure, stress relating to relationships and challenges in the home which go unresolved.  These are all matters which may lead a young person to start smoking. Unfortunately, many young persons are under the mistaken impression that cigarettes eliminate stress,” she warns.

The Executive Director encourages students to seek help from their parents and teachers to resolve any issues that they may be facing and not turn to smoking for answers.  Statistics provided by the JCS show that approximately 80,000 young people across the world become addicted to tobacco each day.  According to the Executive Director, public education is imperative, as an alarming 600,000 second-hand smokers die each year, inclusive of 165,000 children.


Photo credit: Jamaica Observer


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