West Indies: Adventists Call for a Ban
on Smoking in Public Places

BY NIGEL COKECommunication Director, West Indies Union/ANN

eventh-day Adventists are lobbying to snuff out smoking in public places throughout the Caribbean islands.

Victor Roach, president of the International Commission for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (ICPA) Caribbean Bloc, made a public plea to area governments during the April 13 launch of the Jamaican chapter of the ICPA.

"I call upon the governments of the region to introduce laws to ban smoking in public buildings and also to prevent young people from purchasing alcohol and tobacco as a practice," said Roach. "The fight against drugs is the fight against health problems, crime, poverty, [and] abuse of human rights."

Roach called the use of alcohol and drugs-- including tobacco--a "burden to the resources of our economies and the productivity of the people in this region and this country."

The launch was organized by the West Indies Union Health Ministries department and was held on the campus of Adventist-owned Northern Caribbean University in Manchester, Jamaica.

Dr. Allan Handysides, an ICPA board member and General Conference Health Ministries director, supports smoking bans everywhere. "If you can reduce places to smoke by 20 or 30 percent then there is a sizable and measurable reduction in disease consequences," Handysides explained. "The more prohibitions placed on where you can smoke the more difficult it is to smoke, so the rates of smoking decline."

Michael Tucker, executive director of the Jamaican National Council on Drug Abuse, also spoke at the launch and said drug education should start from kindergarten so students can take drug prevention into their adult lives.

Tucker said that according to a 2006 National School survey done in 70 schools across Jamaica with students between the ages 11 and 17, more than 70 percent had used alcohol, 33 percent had used tobacco, 25 percent marijuana, 3 percent crack cocaine and 33 percent showed the use of alcohol before the age of 10.

Milton Gregory, West Indies Union Health Ministries director and director of the ICPA Jamaican chapter, is already planning seminars, workshops, and marches in hopes of changing attitudes toward alcohol and drug use.

Founded in 1952 the International Commission for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency is a nonsectarian, nonpolitical organization with chapters globally placing the spotlight of science on alcoholism and other drug dependencies.

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