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Quit Today!

Today (Tuesday, 31 May) the world observes World No Tobacco Day which this year highlights the importance of the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC).

The FCTC calls for comprehensive legislation which includes provisions protecting people from exposure to tobacco smoke, prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors, prohibiting tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, regulating product disclosure, packaging and labelling of tobacco products all of the current Cayman Islands Tobacco Law supports.

"I am proud to note that the Cayman Islands is already party to the FCTC... We can also take pride in the fact that we are one of the first countries in the Caribbean to enact anti-tobacco legislation ensuring a smoke-free environment for all our residents," said Minister of Health the Hon. Mark Scotland in his World No Tobacco Day message.

Reminding people that globally, smoking annually kills more people than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, he urged people to quit smoking.

As part of the World No Tobacco Day observance, the Public Health Department and volunteers from the Cancer Society will distribute 'No Smoking' signs to local businesses. Public Health staff and the Cancer Society will also take the 'smoking is not cool'-message to schools with a series of presentations.

Facts about Smoking

  1. Tobacco kills:
    • Tobacco use is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. It kills more than five million people a year - an average of one person every six seconds - and accounts for one in 10 adult deaths. Up to half of current users will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease.
    • The annual death toll of more than five million could rise to more than eight million by 2030 unless urgent action is taken to control the tobacco epidemic.

  2. Cigarettes are poisonous:
    • Cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemical compounds and at least 400 toxic substances. When you inhale, a cigarette burns at 700C at the tip and around 60C in the core. This heat breaks down the tobacco to produce various toxins.
    • The most damaging toxins are:

    1. tar, a carcinogen (substance that causes cancer)
    2. nicotine is addictive and increases cholesterol levels in your body
    3. carbon monoxide reduces oxygen in the body
    4. components of the gas and particulate phases cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

  3. Tobacco use drastically increase your chances of cancer:

    • Smokers are more likely to get cancer than non-smokers. This is particularly true of lung cancer, throat cancer and mouth cancer, which hardly ever affect non-smokers.
    • The link between smoking and lung cancer is clear.
    • Ninety percent of lung cancer cases are due to smoking.
    • If no-one smoked, lung cancer would be a rare diagnosis - only 0.5 per cent of people who've never touched a cigarette develop lung cancer.
    • One in ten moderate smokers and almost one in five heavy smokers (more than 15 cigarettes a day) will die of lung cancer.
    • The more cigarettes you smoke in a day, and the longer you've smoked, the higher your risk of lung cancer. Similarly, the risk rises the deeper you inhale and the earlier in life you started smoking.
    • For ex-smokers, it takes approximately 15 years before the risk of lung cancer drops to the same as that of a non-smoker.
    • If you smoke, the risk of contracting mouth cancer is four times higher than for a non-smoker. Cancer can start in many areas of the mouth, with the most common being on or underneath the tongue, or on the lips.
    • Other types of cancer that are more common in smokers are bladder cancer, cancer of the esophagus, kidneys, pancreas and cervical cancer.
  4. If it doesn't kill you, it will make you sick:
    • Smoking raises blood pressure, which can cause hypertension (high blood pressure) - a risk factor for heart attacks and stroke.
    • Couples who smoke are more likely to have fertility problems than couples who are non-smokers.
    • Smoking worsens asthma and counteracts asthma medication by worsening the inflammation of the airways that the medicine tries to ease.
    • The blood vessels in the eye are sensitive and can be easily damaged by smoke, causing a bloodshot appearance and itchiness.
    • Heavy smokers are twice as likely to get macular degeneration, resulting in the gradual loss of eyesight.
    • Smokers run an increased risk of cataracts.
    • Smokers take 25 per cent more sick days per year than non-smokers.
    • Smoking stains your teeth and gums.
    • Smoking increases your risk of periodontal disease, which causes swollen gums, bad breath and teeth to fall out.
    • Smoking causes an acid taste in the mouth and contributes to the development of ulcers.
    • Smoking also affects your looks: smokers have paler skin and more wrinkles. This is because smoking reduces the blood supply to the skin and lowers levels of vitamin A.
    • Smoking causes emphysema (damage to the small airways in the lungs) and pneumonia (inflammation in the lungs).


Cayman Islands Public Health Department