Saint Lucia’s health ministry wins World No-Tobacco Day Award from the World Health Organization

Saint Lucia’s Ministry of Health and Wellness has won a 2021 World No-Tobacco Day Award in the Americas from the World Health Organization (WHO). The Ministry of Health, one of six winners of the award in the Americas, received the recognition for achieving key advances in tobacco control efforts.

“The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) extends its congratulations to the government of Saint Lucia for this meritorious achievement,” said Dr. Yitades Gebre, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries (ECC). “Saint Lucia has emerged as one of the most outstanding contributors and leaders in the implementation of tobacco control among the ECC.”

The Ministry of Health was instrumental in the June 2020 adoption of the Public Health (Smoking Control) Regulations, which establish a smoking ban in enclosed public places and workplaces and on public transportation. The regulations apply to electronic cigarettes and prohibit the sale of tobacco products in health, sport, government, childcare, educational and religious facilities. “No-smoking” signs also will be displayed prominently at the entrances of the facilities and in at least one other prominent place on the premises.

With the adoption of its quit-tobacco regulations, Saint Lucia became the eighth country in the Caribbean and the 22nd in the Americas to adopt regulation in keeping with Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which asserts that people should be protected against tobacco smoke in indoor public places, indoor workplaces, and public transportation.

The tobacco regulations were developed by the Ministry of Health and the Attorney General’s Chambers in collaboration with the Tobacco Control Working Group, a multisectoral committee that includes NGOs and public agencies. PAHO supported development of the regulations. With support from the Bloomberg Initiative to reduce Tobacco Use grants programme, the government is also working on a comprehensive tobacco policy that would lead to development of tobacco control legislation.

Saint Lucia’s government in strengthening further its tobacco control efforts recently has established a Tobacco Cessation Program, by training primary care providers in how to help people quit smoking. Saint Lucia signed onto the FCTC in February 2004.

“The recognition of Saint Lucia by WHO for the accomplishments in tobacco control is of great significance to the Ministry of Health and Wellness. The implementation of comprehensive tobacco policies remain an effective pillar in the reduction of tobacco use. Tobacco use is one of the main causes of preventable disease, disability and premature death and a risk factor contributing to chronic non-communicable diseases. I express gratitude to WHO for such an esteemed award as we remain committed to the health improvements of all Saint Lucians,” said Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, Chief Medical Officer, Saint Lucia.

The other award winners in the Americas are Costa Rica’s mSalud interinstitutional Team, comprised of members of three government agencies; Paraguay’s Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare, the Uruguayan National Resource Fund, the California cities of Beverly Hills and Manhattan Beach, and Brazilian oncologist Dr. Tania Cavalcante.

The six Americas winners are among many winners globally whose tobacco control efforts are recognized by the WHO on World No Tobacco Day, which is celebrated May 31. World No-Tobacco Day was created by WHO Member States in 1987 to raise awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke and to discourage use of tobacco in any form. Tobacco kills more than 8 million people globally each year.

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