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Ministry of Health to Protect Citizens from Second-Hand Smoking
A press release from the Ministry of Health has indicated that it will be holding a launching ceremony for Tobacco Control measures for the country of Belize, tomorrow Wednesday, October 20 at 9:00a.m. at the Belize Telemedia Limited Constitution Park, Belize City.

The Ministry of Health and the Bureau of Standards, with technical support of the Pan American Health Organization, have been working on the implementation of a plan that will maintain a smoke free environment in public places. Cabinet has approved Article Eight (Protection from exposure to tobacco smoke) with the following measures:

   * The prohibition of smoking in Government Buildings
   * The prohibition of smoking in private business where the public access services, for example: Lobbies of Banks, Hotels and Restaurants must indicate “Smoking” and “No Smoking” areas.
   * The prohibition of smoking in all Primary, Secondary and Tertiary learning institutions, whether public, church-state or privately managed.
   * The prohibition of smoking in public transportation, including all Terminals.
   * Public display of “No Smoking Signs” in areas where smoking is prohibited
   * Public awareness and education activities to promote this initiative

Minister of Health, Hon. Pablo Marin, mentioned that he is encouraged by the steps taken to fulfill the obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and he is committed to assist at Cabinet so that we can ensure full compliance with the other articles.

Tobacco Smoking Facts in Belize
In Belize, it is estimated that 37% of our deaths each year are related to cancers and other tobacco-related diseases. A Global Your Tobacco Survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) published in 2008 showed that almost 1 in 5 students currently use some form of tobacco (8% smoking cigarettes) and one in 10 students currently use some form of tobacco aside from cigarettes. And 74.7% of the respondents want to stop smoking, while 61.4% think smoking should be banned from public places.

Guest speakers at the ceremony will include Minister of Health, Hon. Pablo Marin and representative from PAHO. A Tobacco-Sensitization Fair follows the official ceremony with participation from the Cancer Society, Bureau of Standards and several primary schools from the Belize district area.

Belize signed onto the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on September 26, 2003 and ratified it on December 15, 2005. In order to fulfill its obligations under the FCTC the country developed the Belize National Tobacco Control Plan 2007-2012 which was launched on May 31, 2007.

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Dorian Nuñez

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