Call for action on smoking
By the GMDA (Gibraltar Medical and Dental Association)
We the GMDA(Gibraltar Medical and Dental Association) fully endorse the views of the seven cancer charities (Breast Cancer Support Gibraltar, Cancer Research UK Gibraltar Branch, Gibraltar Society for Cancer Relief, Leukaemia Research Fund, Pathway through Pain, Prostate Cancer Support Group Gibraltar and RICC) which have come forward to express their support for a change in the law regarding smoking in public places and give our full backing to such measures.
As doctors and dentists we witness first hand the devastating effects of smoking-related harms on our patients and thereforewe have a vital role in providing information to our patients about the risks of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS).
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable morbidity (illness) and mortality (death) in the western world
Smoking causes a wide range of ill-health and fatal illnesses including cancers, cardiovascular disease and respiratory diseases.
In Gibraltar more than one in four adults still smoke and many adults and children are continuing to take up the habit.
In Gibraltar currently 30% of all adult males smoke and 26% of all adult females smoke compared with 23% male and 21% of females in the UK
Proportion of young adults (18-49) who smoke are 41% male and 32% female compared with 32% and 28% in UK
Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause premature death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke.
Smoking disproportionately affects those already disadvantaged by poverty and is a major contributor to health and premature mortality inequalities.
The direct cost to the Gibraltar Health Authority is significant in treating smoking-related diseases (approximately £2,700 million annually in UK), while the cost to individuals, families and employers is substantially more.
Experiences in other countries suggest that if we do not strengthen current tobacco control policies, smoking prevalence will not only stop declining but could even start increasing again.
It is seven years since Ireland became the first country in the world to impose an outright ban on smoking in workplaces. Irish legislationmakesit an offence to smoke in workplaces, which has the effect of banning smoking in pubs and restaurants. The majority of all 27 EU Member States currently have some form of regulation aimed at limiting exposure to second-hand smoke.
Gibraltar should voluntarily follow the obligations under Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the worlds first public health treaty to enact comprehensive smoke-free laws in indoor public places, work places and public transport before 2012 which is the deadline for Member States to bring in comprehensive smoking bans.
The European Parliament's resolution on smoking states that "only a full smoking ban in all enclosed workplaces, including catering and drinking establishments, and all public buildings and transport can protect the health of employees and non-smokers and make it considerably easier for smokers to give up. The only option is a comprehensive banon smoking in all enclosed workplaces and public places.
In conclusion the GMDA calls for
1. Action to introduce comprehensive smoke-free laws in indoor public places, work places and public transport.
2. Action in the levels of smoking in Gibraltar and to protect our children from taking up this deadly habit.
There is, however, much more to do to reduce the burden of tobacco on individuals and society.