The message is being emphasized that smoking is harmful in any form, as Dominica joins the international community in observing World No Tobacco Day on Thursday.

Local officials are focusing their attention on discouraging the use of tobacco and marijuana, as they participate in the initiative sponsored by the World Health Organisation to reduce tobacco use across the globe “in an effort to improve public health for all” according to a release from the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry says it is, this year,  targeting the Secondary School Population from first form to third form.

“The objective is to create awareness among school children on the effects of smoking in an effort to reduce the incidences of smoking among the school children,” its release states.

The number of young people exposed to tobacco smoking is declining, according to a Ministry of Health Survey conducted during the years 2000, 2004 and 2009.

The figure has moved from 28 per cent to 26 per cent and 25 per cent consecutively during these three years focused on.

However data  from a 2009  Global Youth Survey conducted among school aged students indicate that there has been an increase in the usage of both marijuana and tobacco.

It shows that “tobacco use increased from 19.3 per cent in 2000 to 25.3 per cent in 2009. Use of marijuana increased from 18.2 per cent in 2002 to 29.5 per cent in 2006”.

Tobacco use is described as being among the leading preventable causes of death.

“Each year, the global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people, including more than 600,000 who die from exposure to second-hand smoke. In CARICOM about 30 per cent of male and 15 per cent female deaths are due to smoking,” the Health Ministry says.

It also warns that “marijuana use causes a number of social and health problems, such as mental illness, lung inflammation, family problems and poor school performance”.