Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC): Medical academics form an advisory council for tobacco control in the country

Tobacco kills more than eight million people each year worldwide and destroys our environment, further harming human health through cultivation, production, distribution, consumption, and post-consumer waste.

More than 19,000 people die a year in Chile from cigarette consumption, equivalent to almost 52 people a day.

In this context, the undersecretary of Public Health, Cristóbal Cuadrado , led the first meeting of the advisory council for tobacco control , an instance convened by the Ministry of Health (Minsal) and in which Claudia Bambs , head of the Department of Public Health, participated. UC, and Carolina Goic, academic of the UC Department of Hemato-Oncology and executive director of the National Cancer Forum Foundation .

“In Chile we continue to have a high prevalence of tobacco consumption, more than a third of the population consumes it regularly, and one of the elements that is really worrying is that there is consumption that begins very early” – Cristóbal Cuadrado, undersecretary of public health

Members of the academy, public health schools of the country, scientific societies, the National Cancer Forum and civil society organizations participate in the instance to generate a transversal space that allows monitoring of the public policies in which Chile is involved. has committed. “We also want it to be a space where we can receive suggestions on how to move forward with this agenda”, commented the undersecretary, to continue:

“Unfortunately, in Chile we continue to have a high prevalence of tobacco consumption, more than a third of the population consumes it regularly, and one of the elements that is really worrying is that there is consumption that starts very early, particularly in girls. and adolescents, in whom the average age of initiation of consumption is below 14 years, “added the health authority.

To alleviate the critical situation, within what this work team wants to promote are smoke-free spaces, increase flat labeling to reduce marketing in the tobacco industry, continue promoting measures such as eliminating flavorings from these products, and finally continue working on tobacco taxes to reduce access particularly in the younger population.

“Tobacco use causes disease, premature death, disability, loss of quality of life, impoverishes families and weakens national economies. In addition, there is the damage to the environment from cigarette butts and tobacco cultivation that uses large amounts of toxic fertilizers and pesticides that contaminate the water, causing desertification and exposing those who grow it to serious health damage,” said Claudia Bambs, an epidemiologist at UC and member of the council.

“Tobacco use causes disease, premature death, disability, loss of quality of life, impoverishes families and weakens national economies” – Claudia Bambs, UC epidemiologist

Along the same lines, Carolina Goic expressed her desire that the initiatives promoted by the Minsal be approved in Congress. “The only way public policies have an impact is when they are given continuity. I want to point out that in the association that smoking has with cancer, many times there are things that we cannot change, such as genetic or environmental factors, but tobacco consumption is something that can be changed, ”she indicated.

“To address the problem of smoking, it is essential in our country to join all efforts, therefore, I appreciate that the undersecretary has summoned us. In addition, I value the commitment to carry out the bill that we presented almost 9 years ago to adapt our legislation to the WHO framework agreement, and I also highlight the willingness to include a new tobacco tax structure in the Tax Reform”, he concluded. the UC academic.

Also participating in the council are: Sonia Covarrubias from Chile Libre de Tabaco; Marco Cornejo, from the Chilean Corporation for Public Oral Health; Guacolda Benavides of the Chilean Society of Respiratory Diseases; Verónica Iglesias from the School of Public Health of the University of Chile and Lidia Amarales, from the Tobacco or Health Social Table.


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