Under the theme: “Guyanese Children United in the Fight for a Smoke Free Environment” the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be hosting a school concert to observe World No Tobacco Day, 2011.
The event is billed for South Ruimveldt Primary School on Tuesday.
The programme targets primary school learners in vulnerable communities and will feature presentations from the host school, Enterprise, St. Pius, Tucville and East La Penitence primary schools in dance, drama, poetry, song, and interactive talks.
Each year World No Tobacco Day is observed to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocate for effective policies to reduce consumption.
Tobacco use leads most commonly to diseases affecting the heart and lungs, with smoking being a major risk factor for heart attacks, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and cancer (particularly lung cancer, cancers of the larynx and mouth, and pancreatic cancer).
The World Health Organisation estimates that tobacco caused 5.4 million deaths in 2004 and 100 million deaths over the course of the 20th century.
Similarly, the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention describes tobacco use as “the single most preventable risk to human health in developed countries and a major cause of premature death worldwide.”
Rates of smoking have leveled-off or declined in the developed world. Smoking rates in the United States have dropped by half from 1965 to 2006, falling from 42 per cent to 20.8 per cent in adults.
In the developing world, tobacco consumption is rising by 3.4 per cent per year.
The Education Ministry, through its partnerships with the Health Ministry and PAHO, has given recognition to the importance of raising awareness of the danger of tobacco use.
Testimony to this is the move by the Education Ministry to declare all schools and education environments across Guyana “Smoke Free Zones”.
Education Minister Shaik Baksh has also publicly vowed to take strong disciplinary action against teachers who are founding smoking on the school premises.
The Education Ministry has also adopted a zero tolerance approach to sex, the use of drugs, weapons and alcohol in schools.
Efforts are continuously being made to strengthen the reporting system in schools to promptly arrest and dissuade these activities in the school system.
Minister Baksh has also been encouraging teachers to be good ambassadors and strive to promote healthy life styles, positive attitudes, values and behaviours in and out of their classrooms.