GUYANA’S draft Tobacco control Bill geared towards promoting a healthier Guyana will be read for the first time in the National Assembly on Thursday.
The bill will provide for the adoption and implementation of tobacco control policies in accordance with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco control.
The draft bill is available to the public for public consumption at the Legislative Department at Parliament Buildings.
The legislation will also serve as the legal regulator for administration, inspection and enforcement, while providing legislative protection from exposure to second hand smoke. It will also see the establishment of a National Tobacco Control Council.
When assented to by President Granger, the act will also guide the way advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco is handled, the Government Information Agency (GINA) said.
It will also outline sales requirements, as well as the regulations and reporting for the tobacco industry. Corrective action and additional provisions for penalties can also be found in the draft bill.
The legislation, upon becoming an act, aims to protect present and future generations from the devastating harms of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke. It will also prevent tobacco use by minors.
Workers moreover the public will be protected from exposure to tobacco smoke, the bill will serve to prevent exposure of the public, especially minors to tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, while enhancing public awareness of the hazards of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Among other objectives of the bill is to ensure that every person is provided with effective health warnings about the harmful use of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke, regulate the tobacco industry, its products and sales, protect public health policies from the commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.
The document is to be interpreted in a manner which aligns with the WHO’s convention in a way that respects, protects and fulfills the right of every human being to the highest attainable standard of health.
In Guyana, no data has been made public on how many persons die from smoking every year, but according to the WHO, tobacco kills more than half of its users.
The WHO has identified the tobacco epidemic as one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. It kills some six million people a year.
More than five million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use, while more than 600,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke, the United Nations health organisation said.
It also noted that tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of healthcare and hinder economic development.
Smoking, among others, causes coughs, colds, asthma, pneumonia, stroke, heart diseases and lung cancer.