DR could do more to reduce smoking here

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says the Dominican Republic needs to do much more to reduce deaths and sicknesses from smoking tobacco. The PAHO reports on progress in discouraging smoking in the Americas region. In its recent report on Tobacco Control in the Americas, the PAHO indicates that tobacco use is the main risk factor for six of the eight most frequent causes of death in the world. It is also one of the four most preventable and prevalent non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory).

The Report on Tobacco Control of the Region of the Americas 2022 presents the progress of the implementation of the MPOWER technical package from 2018 to 2021. The report indicates there has been significant progress. Yet it includes the Dominican Republic among the countries that have yet to incorporate the best practices.

“Tobacco causes nearly one million deaths annually in the region and is the only legally consumed product that kills up to half of those who use it,” said Dr. Anselm Hennis, director of PAHO Washington’s Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. “In the face of this enormous threat, the response must be equally aggressive. Control measures are working, and we must move more quickly to implement all of them.”

These control measures, known as MPOWER and established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008, have helped reduce users from 28% of the population in the region in 2000 to 16.3% in 2020, the second lowest prevalence in the world.

South America is a leader in the Americas. In 2020 South America became the first smoke-free sub-region in the Americas, i.e. where smoking is absolutely prohibited in enclosed public places, workplaces and public transport.

According to PAHO’s Tobacco Control Report for the Region of the Americas 2022, measures in 2021 have been implemented in only 26 of the 35 countries in the Region of the Americas as follows:

  • 10 countries have surveillance systems with recent, periodic and representative data on adult and youth tobacco use.
  • 24 countries have measures in place to protect against exposure to secondhand smoke. 6 countries offer comprehensive smoking cessation assistance.
  • 22 countries use large graphic warnings on tobacco product packages about the dangers of smoking.
  • 9 countries have total bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • 3 countries apply indirect taxes on cigarettes representing 75% or more of their retail price.

In the Dominican Republic
PAHO says that nine countries have not managed to implement any measures fully, i.e. at the levels of established best practices, including the Dominican Republic.

One of PAHO’s priorities in the Dominican Republic is to maintain close ties with the Ministry of Public Health (MSP), the National Health Service (SNS), scientific societies and civil society, such as the Dominican Anti-Tobacco Alliance (ADAT), in order to maintain surveillance and control of anti-tobacco measures and, together with other initiatives, to create awareness in the population about the damage to health that can be caused by tobacco consumption in both direct and indirect smokers (those who receive the smoke).

This year, the Organization delivered to the Ministry of Public Health and the National Health Service (SNS) 1,000 ¨Smoke-Free Space¨ signs to be distributed in the 40 DPSs nationwide in May 2022. The Ministry has issued Resolution No.000066 of 2021 that declares all public and private health facilities in the country as Smoke-Free Spaces, including their entire perimeter.

Similarly, in July, a meeting was held with the Dominican Association of Faculties of Medical Schools (ADOFEM) to discuss the benefits of adopting the Resolution of Smoke-Free Spaces in university campuses.

PAHO on the day of the release of the report emphasized that the Dominican Republic still needs to make further progress in the different control measures, as only 4 of the 6 MPOWER measures have been applied in moderate range.

The Dominican Republic is a global leader in cigar exports. The Dominican Republic is the leading premium cigar exporting country in the world. In 2022, Congress passed a law that declares tobacco and cigars in particular as a Dominican cultural heritage.

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Pan American Health Organization
Pan American Health Organization
World Bank

22 August 2022