Tobacco control legislation is a historic step for Guyana

Dear Editor,

The landmark tobacco control legislation passed by the Parliament of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana is a historic step for the nation and if signed by President David Granger, will ensure that the people of Guyana are protected from the devastating harms of tobacco use.

The bill, passed by Parliament on July 27, requires life-saving measures proven to reduce tobacco use, including picture-based health warnings on tobacco packs, 100 per cent smoke-free workplaces and public places and bans on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

If signed into law, the bill will drastically impact tobacco use in Guyana, where 1 in 10 male deaths are caused by tobacco use every year. Controlling tobacco consumption is also necessary to reduce the deadly toll of non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and chronic lung disease, of which tobacco consumption is a key risk factor. In Guyana and around the world, tobacco companies fight the hardest against measures they know work to reduce smoking. To protect public health from the vested interest of tobacco companies, Guyana should move forward with this life-saving public health measure.

Tobacco use is the world’s No 1 cause of preventable death, claiming 7 million lives – 80 per cent of which occur in low- and middle-income countries – and costing the world more than $1.4 trillion in health care costs and lost productivity each year.

By signing this legislation into law, President Granger will ensure Guyana joins many neighbours in Latin America and the Caribbean that have passed strong laws to reduce the devastating burden of tobacco related death and disease. With this new law, Guyana can show the world that countries of any size can stand up to the tobacco industry and take strong action to save lives and protect public health.

Yours faithfully,

Patricia Sosa

Director of Caribbean and Latin America Programs, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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