Jamaica Rallies Against Tobacco Use by Empowering Youth on World No Tobacco Day 2024

WNTD 2024
PAHO/WHO/Thelca White

Kingston, Jamaica, June 4, 2024 (PAHO) - The National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) and the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Jamaica partnered with the PAHO/WHO Country Office and other key stakeholders to recognize “World No Tobacco Day” on Friday, May 31, 2024, under the theme “Protecting Children from Tobacco Industry Interference.” This year’s theme empowered young people to demand that the tobacco industry cease targeting them with harmful products.

The 4-hour event featured exhibitions and empowerment sessions and was well attended by over 300 teachers and students from schools across the island. Dr. Audrey Morris, Acting PAHO/WHO Representative, in her brief remarks, highlighted the surge in the use of e-cigarettes. The 2017 Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) conducted in Jamaica revealed that 11.7% of students ages 13 to 15 years were using electronic cigarettes, and anecdotal studies suggested that this number is rising. She encouraged students to support each other in making healthier choices.

Photo Credit: PAHO/WHO/Thelca White - Dr. Audrey Morris helps a student with a WNTD activity at the PAHO booth.

In the absence of strict legal restrictions, the tobacco and related industries continue to manufacture and sell products in a vast array of flavors, such as fruit and candy. E-cigarettes, for example, are available in over 16,000 unique flavors and are designed to appeal to young audiences and are increasingly being integrated into digital environments. Research confirms that flavors are the primary reason why young people are drawn to e-cigarettes and other nicotine and tobacco products.

Mr. Ian Stein, PAHO/WHO Representative, in his media brief, urged everyone to reflect on this significance of World No Tobacco Day and redouble efforts to protect the health and wellbeing of all young people. "We must continue to advocate for the creation and implementation of robust public health policies aimed at curbing the influence of the tobacco industry. By doing so, we safeguard a healthier, smoke-free future for our children," he said. 

PAHO calls on governments to fully implement the WHO FCTC and the additional guidelines related to Article 13, adopted at the tenth Conference of the Parties in February 2024, to address digital and cross-border marketing and the depiction of tobacco in entertainment media. These guidelines are designed to help governments take swift action to protect children and youth.