Countries in the Caribbean have long since fought against the public health issues that cigarette smoking causes. For instance, Jamaica joined ranks with Caribbean Community partners such as Barbados, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago to prohibit tobacco use in public spaces and the workplace. Former health minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson even discussed his plans to collaborate with local and international partners, such as the Pan American Health Organization, to circumvent cigarette smoking effectively.
At present, efforts to ensure that the Caribbean can stay smoke-free continue— this is evident with Antigua and Barbuda’s comprehensive anti-smoking policies. As it stands, Antigua and Barbuda has a complete ban on the advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of tobacco products. In addition, a 2021 Healthy Caribbean Coalition shared that the country has also put in place a policy that regulates the contents of e-cigarettes and prevents the sale of flavored tobacco items.
With that, the article will explore how Antigua and Barbuda is reducing cigarette smoking.
The country enforces robust smoke-free legislation
In a 2021 Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) feature, CARPHA Executive Director Dr. Joy St. John shared that tobacco use contributes to the development of cancer, diabetes, and stroke. She even mentioned how “These diseases are the greatest contributors to illness and deaths in the Caribbean Community”.
For reference, a 2022 Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction report found that 18 people in Antigua and Barbuda die from tobacco smoking-related diseases yearly. As such, the mortality rate associated with cigarette use is 3.97%. It makes sense, then, that the country has developed robust smoke-free legislation. Case in point, the country bans smoking in enclosed public areas such as educational and vocational facilities and healthcare. In addition, recreational spaces like concert halls and indoor stadiums, as well as food establishments like bars and restaurants, also observe strict rules against tobacco use.
Notably, business owners and managers are also tasked to eliminate all ashtrays from the indoor areas of their premises and any outdoor spaces where smoking isn’t allowed. This helps further discourage citizens of Antigua and Barbuda from using tobacco products. That said, in case individuals violate this law, they can either be removed from the premises or incur substantial fines.
The country penalizes businesses for the sale of tobacco products
As detailed by the country’s Tobacco Control Act 2018, businesses can receive fines for violating tobacco product sales restrictions like selling tobacco products via vending machines or the Internet. Otherwise, offenders can also contend with license suspension, revocation, limitation, or cancellation. The law also states that tobacco products that don’t comply with the requirements of the Tobacco Control Act can be subject to confiscation, destruction, or forfeiture.
Interestingly, a study published by the National Library of Medicine explains that the country has likewise developed general penalties for tobacco distributors that violate the packaging and labeling standards set by the government. In particular, Antigua and Barbuda’s Tobacco Control Act notes that “Any packaging and labeling with the warnings from the prior rotation period, along with the contents of the package, shall be subject to confiscation and destruction”.
With the numerous penalties that come alongside the sale of tobacco products, the government hopes that cigarette smoking can be reduced across the country.
The country promotes the proliferation of NRTs (nicotine replacement therapy)
To counteract cigarette use, the referenced Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction report on Antigua and Barbuda revealed that the country had enabled easy access to NRT products. Alongside the fact that a prescription isn’t required to purchase NRTs such as nicotine gum and nicotine patches, the advertisement of said products is likewise permitted. Currently, nicotine pouches are one of the relatively newer and more popular NRT options. As demonstrated by the bestselling nicotine pouches stocked at Prilla, these products are convenient, easy to use, and mimic the tactile sensation of chewing tobacco. Because these are guaranteed to be tobacco-free, however, users don’t have to worry about spitting or staining their teeth.
On the other hand, smokers who wish to quit can also opt for a tried-and-tested NRT, such as a nicotine patch. Similar to how Fete transdermal patches deliver vitamin B1 into the wearer via absorption, patches by NicoDerm can provide smokers with a steady stream of nicotine. Apart from being inconspicuous to use in public spaces, this NRT is available in various strengths. This can allow smokers in Antigua and Barbuda to choose a dose that’s right for them and, ultimately, help them decrease their tobacco usage.
Given that Antigua and Barbuda remains steadfast about upholding its comprehensive smoke-free measures, the country can impede the adverse effects of tobacco use on public health.