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Do not smoke, students warned

Friday, March 01, 2019

A stern warning is being issued to students across the island to desist from smoking cigarettes, marijuana, hookahs, e-cigarettes, and other harmful substances.

Consultant pulmonologist and senior medical officer at the National Chest Hospital in St Andrew, Dr Terry Baker, advises that cigarettes, including e-cigarettes, consist of nearly 600 additives, and tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 different compounds.

Addressing students at a Healthy Lifestyle Youth Forum hosted by the Jamaica Cancer Society at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston yesterday, Dr Baker pointed out that some of the compounds are found in everyday products, such as rat poison, toilet cleaners and embalming fluid.

An e-cigarette is a handheld electronic device used for 'vaping'. The device is battery-operated and emits a vaporised nicotine or non-nicotine solution, some flavoured, for the user to inhale. It provides a similar sensation to inhaling tobacco smoke without the smoke.

Hookahs, like an e-cigarette, are used for vaporising and smoking flavoured tobacco.

Concerning marijuana, the senior medical officer warned that “marijuana should not be smoked”.

“In fact, no smoke belongs in the lungs, whether it is weed, cigarette, cho cho (chayote) leaf, anything. Every year, coming into the hospital I have students who have gone to school and eat ganja in brownies, in sorrel and those who have smoked it,” she said.

She recounted to the students a story of a young man who visited her office after smoking ganja and could not stop twitching. He had been suffering from acute psychosis.

“You get persons who are feeling and seeing all sorts of things and you have to sedate them. They can also hurt you and themselves (if one is not careful),” she said.

Meanwhile, substance abuse officer at the National Council on Drug Abuse, Daniel Brown, explained that any individual can become addicted to a substance at an early age.

He urged the students to remain in school and not to smoke cigarettes, e-cigarettes or marijuana, which can have detrimental effects on their health and future.

“Smoking kills, we all know that. It is just a matter of time. There is no if or but about it. If you start smoking, it will kill you,” Brown said.

Now in its 10th staging, the Healthy Lifestyle Youth Forum, put on by the Jamaica Cancer Society in partnership with a few agencies, such as the Health Ministry, Association of General Practitioners and the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, is being held under the theme '#Mek Wi Talk Round 2'.

The forum is an initiative geared towards teaching adolescents about the detrimental effects of tobacco smoking, alcohol and drug abuse.

It also informs the students on healthy lifestyle practices, such as nutrition, stress management, physical activity, conflict resolution and effective study techniques.