Antigua and Barbuda’s celebration of “No Tobacco Week” got off to a flying start on Sunday with a grand church service at the Bible Believers Church in Clare Hall.
In attendance were members of the Antigua-Barbuda Tobacco Free Initiative, headed by Chairman Colin O’Keiffe. Viola Ambrose, Sean Samuel, Jermaine Kentish and Dr. Helen Makinde were also there.
While addressing the gathering, Dr. Makinde touched on some of the dangers of cigarette smoking, particularly to the lung, throat, teeth and gums.
Low birth rates and the dangers of second hand smoking were also addressed.
Dr. Makinde also spoke of a number of initiatives that can be useful in the fight against Tobacco in all its forms.
“We want our children and grandchildren to live in an atmosphere where they can breathe freely because there is an increase in asthma these days; we have a lot of people coming down with asthma. So we are pushing for laws to control Tobacco use and also for higher taxes on cigarettes. This will increase the prices and reduce the intake”, Makinde said.
She also praised the United Kingdom for taking such a tough stance on the Tobacco Industry with the recent passing of an Anti-Tobacco Law earlier this month.
O’Keiffe on the other hand said that he was expecting this year’s “No Tobacco Week” to be extra special, due to the fact that the theme for this year’s event is sending a strong message to cigarette users and producers.
“The theme is “Get ready for Plain Packaging” because what we see is that cigarette companies tend to use decorations and some very pretty and attractive pictures to attract their customers so plain packaging is a way of reducing that impact. We are expecting that once plain packaging is introduced, we will have a reduction in the use and consumption of cigarettes and tobacco products. It will also have an impact on cigarette advertising, marketing and it will most definitely affect their sponsorship”, O’Keiffe noted.
Some of the activities for this year’s “No Tobacco Week includes radio and television programs, vox pops in Barbuda, newspaper articles as well as the marquee event, the annual breathe free health walk from Yasco to the American University of Antigua on Sunday May 29th.
That exercise will start at 5:30 in the morning.
World No Tobacco Day this year will be celebrated on Tuesday May 31st.