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Healthy Caribbean Coalition - UWI Chancellor urges higher taxes on cigarettes

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BY CMC Originally published: September 16, 2009 11:19:00 AM Last updated: September 16, 2009 11:28:00 AM

Chancellor of the University of theWest- Indies (UWI), Professor George Alleyne

ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC - Chancellor of the University of the West- Indies (UWI), Professor George Alleyne, says he is concerned over the incidents of chronic non communicable diseases in Dominica and is recommending an increase on tobacco taxes to curb the problem.

Speaking at a public education lecture here on Tuesday night, Professor Alleyne said that blood pressure levels associated with hypertension, diabetes and obesity were increasing among the population.

“Approximately 12 per cent of females are diabetic and surprising the figure in male is said to be twice as high,” said Professor Alleyne, as he acknowledged the reactivation of the Dominica Diabetes Association (DBA).

He said the main causes of death in Dominica were hypertensive heart disease, diabetes, coronary heart disease and strokes.

Professor Alleyne also revealed that “about 30 per cent of males are over weight or obese and females show twice that figure. About two out of every three Dominican ladies are over weight or obese”.

According to the UWI Chancellor there is also a problem with physical activity among the population and blamed tobacco use, over weight, high levels of cholesterol and inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables for contributing to the ill-health of citizens.

“When we put all the data together, 20 per cent of Dominican males and 40 per cent of Dominican ladies had three or more of the risk factors for chronic disease. This has to be a major cause of concern,” Professor George Alleyne said.

In his lecture, the UWI Chancellor said that the Roosevelt Skerrit government could assist in dismantling the enabling environment which makes chronic non communicable diseases more prevalent in the country.

“The government has the authority to so change the environment that it becomes easier for the individual to avoid the risk factors that contribute to chronic disease. It is the government that can facilitate the population having access to facilities that enable people to have more physical activity.”

He said increased taxes on tobacco, “is one of the most powerful and cost effective means of reducing tobacco consumption of smokers and preventing the young from beginning to smoke”.

“Government can implement all of the commitments made when it signed and ratified the global frame work convention on tobacco control. The government can through its capacity legislate, regulate, or tax ...alter the enabling environment appropriately,” he added.

Dominica is one of several Caribbean countries that will participate in a regional Wellness Day programme being organised by the Guyana-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and the Pan American Health organisation (PAHO) this weekend.

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