Dominica government moves to enact tobacco policies

In a recent article in Dominica News Online, Dominica’s Health Minister promised to “draft legislation to raise taxes on tobacco products to 75 percent of the purchase price, ban the sale of tobacco products to minors, ensure proper labeling of content of the harmful nature of the product and ban on the advertising of tobacco products.” This is very much in line with regulations from the World Health Organization. Additionally, this news follows Australia’s recent decision to ban tobacco company logos on cigarette packages. Instead, the boxes will show graphic labels of the effects of tobacco.

I applaud the Health Minister for taking steps such as these towards ensuring a healthier nation. But believe there are several other areas that need attention as well, including alcohol and fast-food advertising. I am constantly bombarded by advertising for alcoholic products and fast-food options whenever I listen to Dominica radio. These ads air prominently at times when children are likely to be home. No amount of “drink responsibly” counters the constant stream of engaging music and on-air mentions that hosts devote to alcohol advertising.

It is difficult for health communicators to change individual behavior when the environment is filled with so much counter-advertising. It is great to see the government consider factors beyond individual-level behavior and see the importance of public policy in effectuating change.