World No Tobacco Day: Minors smoking fanta, e-cigarettes 'a problem'
The smoking of fanta and e-cigarettes by students as young as age 10 years old has the full attention of authorities on substance abuse in Barbados.
Manager at the National Council on Substance Abuse in Barbados Betty Hunte said:
“While there is no data to show how many youths are dying as it relates to tobacco use here in Barbados, initial findings from the recently concluded 2020 National Primary School Survey show that tobacco use is minimal and mainly experimental among Class 3 and Class 4 students.
"While the use of tobacco cigarettes declined between 2009 and 2020, the use of wild tobacco or fanta marginally increased during the same period.
"Also of note, is the use of electronic cigarettes by students. Though minimal, this requires special attention as these devices produce an aerosol that contains nicotine – the addictive drug in regular cigarettes – along with other chemicals which can be harmful to the lungs.
"We, therefore, cannot be complacent and pretend that it is not a problem.”
Speaking to the plan going forward, she pledged: “The NCSA will continue to reach out to the youth through our community programmes and through the schools along with our vigorous social media campaigns to remind them that this substance is harmful and should be avoided,” she further stated.
The National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA), joined the rest of the world in observing May 31 as World No Tobacco Day.
This year’s theme is 'Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use.'
The World Health Organization (WHO) says youths often underestimate the risks of tobacco and the likelihood of becoming addicted. “The younger children are when they first start using tobacco, the more likely they are to become regular users and the less likely they are to quit. If current trends continue, 250 million children and teenagers alive today who continue smoking into adulthood will die from tobacco-related diseases,” says the WHO.
The WHO is also reporting that the Caribbean region is already seeing a spike in the prevalence of these products among 13 to 15-year-old children in several countries, with evidence suggesting their use is higher among young people than adults.
On this opportunity, despite the focus on youth this year, Deputy Manager Troy Wickham reminded persons that the Council is ready and willing to help.
“We at the NCSA are reminding the public that smoking tobacco like other substances has serious health implications. If you are engaging in this please stop, if you want help please reach out to us,” he urged.