Accions and strategies are implemented in Havana and throughout the country to raise awareness in the population about the harmful effects caused by smoking
Inés María Miranda
Smoking is a social problem so it needs a social response, with active participation from the rest of the sectors; the work against the harmful habit cannot be done only from the Public Health Ministry, said epidemiologist Patricia Varona of the National Institute of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Microbiology.
As part of the World No Tobacco Day on May 31, she referred to the actions that are being implemented on these days regarding this topic: competitions, recreational school activities and debates with adolescents and youngsters, scientific events in all provinces of the country, where works and research projects on prevention and control have been presented.
“However, the most important is not what we do that day, but what we do every day and we have to admit we are not doing”, the specialist said.
The abovementioned is confirmed by the high exposure to tobacco smoke, the environment, our children, adolescents and young people in homes, workplaces and public places and we do not find – Varona Pérez said- a strong response to the protection of these people in the mentioned scenarios.
“The smoke-free environments are favorable, but still insufficient, what has been achieved is minimal. For instance in health institutions, there are people who smoke still when it is against the rules and what we need is the strength and the struggle of those people who are there to to enforce the rules and it has failed.”
The same situation is observed in public transportation and there is no response from the population to avoid this, Varona Pérez said, who added the exposure to smoke is as harmful as smoking itself and this has been made public to raise awareness in the population.
A case in point is the children’s situation – the epidemiologist said -, «their exposure in homes is very high and we are among the countries with the greatest child exposure in homes and against that we have to keep fighting, Continue adding mothers, relatives to prevent this from happening. These children will be the sick of tomorrow, unless we advance in non-exposure, protection, as in workplaces.»
It would not be just the sectors with priority, Health and Education, he said. All sectors, all workers have the right to be protected against exposure to tobacco smoke, because of the harmful effects it causes on health.
Other facts indicate that smoking is a health problem in Cuba.
The mortality attributable to smoking, let’s say, people who die from smoking and from exposure to tobacco smoke, is high, according to the national deputy coordinator of the Smoking Prevention and Control Group, epidemiologist Patricia Varona Pérez. The 15% of those killed in the country are caused by smoking. «These people would not have died, if we really had kept them back from smoking.»
she added that some research works show a decline in the trend of smokers in the country, from 15 years of age and older until 2011. However, it is observed that among youth and adolescents there is an increase in smoking, which will be measured precisely this year with the national health survey, including all provinces and the population over 6 years of age.
«This perception of the increase in smoking in the country, will be endorsed by an investigation so that there is no longer any discussion of what it really is.»
Translated by ESTI