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Health Ministry survey - 23 per cent of teens smoke

Published: 
Monday, November 3, 2014
Winners of the Ministry of Health No Ifs No Butts Secondary Schools Poetry Slam at Sapa on Friday. Winners, from left, are second-place Dominique Friday, winner Karina Rodriguez and third-place Harmony Farrell. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA

A report from the Ministry of Health shows that almost a quarter of the T&T young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are smokers. The results of the survey were revealed by County Medical Officer of Health for the Victoria District, Dr Akenath Misir, at the ministry’s second annual Anti-Smoking Poetry Slam at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts, San Fernando, last Friday.

“According to the Panam Steps Report, 23 per cent of persons between the ages of 15 to 24 years are smokers,” Misir said. “This alarming statistic alone shows that by engaging in this deadly habit, one could expect a lower quality of life and an increased risk of developing non-communicable diseases, such as heart (disease), stroke and cancer.” Sixteen schools took part in the Poetry Slam and Misir praised the students for their contributions.

“The performances were excellent, it is great to see the high standard that everyone adhered to. “We believe your voice and influence are most important in spreading the message of a tobacco-free lifestyle to your peers,” Misir said. Girls dominated the competition, with the top three prizes awarded to Holy Faith Convent and St Joseph’s Convent. 

Karina Rodriquez, of Holy Faith Convent, Couva, captured first place with her contribution Hashtag: Don’t Smoke. Portraying a smoker with lung cancer, Rodriquez questioned the choices her character made, likening the nicotine addiction to slavery. “From this slavery there is no emancipation!” she proclaimed. Urging her peers never to indulge in smoking, Rodriquez made them roar in approval with her closing line, “Hashtag: Don’t Smoke!”

Second-place winner Dominique Friday also gave a stunning performance, dressed as a cigarette. She told the audience putting a cigarette in their mouths was like receiving the “kiss of death.” The St Joseph’s student said while people have the power to choose, they are holding triggers to their own heads when they smoke. The third place winner, Holy Faith Convent’s (Penal) Harmony Farrell, also likened smoking to suicide and begged her peers not to become statistics.