Protecting Children from Tobacco Industry Interference

Belize City, May 31, 2024 – World No Tobacco Day serves as a global platform for young people to advocate for protection against predatory tobacco marketing tactics. The tobacco industry strategically targets youth, aiming to secure a lifetime of profits by creating a new wave of addiction.

In Belize, tobacco use is increasingly popular among a younger population. Shockingly, approximately thirteen percent of youth aged thirteen to fifteen years use tobacco products. While this prevalence is concerning, it aligns with the regional average for the Americas, which stands at nine percent. The urgency to protect children from tobacco industry interference has never been greater.

Empowering Youth and Advocating for Health

The Ministry of Health and Wellness organized a national tobacco control forum, focusing on empowering youths to advocate for their health. One critical strategy is the implementation of higher taxation on tobacco products. By imposing higher custom duties and taxes, we can decrease the demand for these harmful products.

The Strong Tobacco Control Bill

Belize is taking significant steps to combat tobacco use. A robust Tobacco Control Bill has been drafted, addressing behavior change and health issues related to tobacco. Smoking contributes significantly to chronic respiratory illnesses, emphysema, strokes, heart disease, and lung cancer. The bill aims to curb these health risks and protect our youth1.

Emerging Threats: E-Cigarettes and Hookahs

While traditional tobacco products remain a concern, the National Drug Abuse and Control Council (NDACC) is also vigilant about new and emerging tobacco products. E-cigarettes, hookahs, and heated tobacco products pose equal harm due to their nicotine content. The NDACC emphasizes the need to address these threats effectively.

As we commemorate World No Tobacco Day, let us unite in safeguarding our children from the tobacco industry’s influence. By empowering youth, implementing effective legislation, and raising awareness, we can create a healthier future for Belize.

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