MP Sarah Wescot-Williams
PHILIPSBURG--United Democrats (UD) Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams wants Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Omar Ottley to take urgent action to curb vaping amongst youngsters, noting that “it has been long enough” that the issue has remained unaddressed.
“In February of this year, I again raised the issue of vaping amongst our youth, especially in our schools, and I also provided some chilling statistics of what this habit does to the brains of youngsters. There is absolutely no control on what is sold in these e-devices that reach our shores and surely no control on who purchases them,” Wescot-Williams said in a press release on Wednesday.
“In that letter to Minister Ottley I recommended several ways to at least start a ban or a control on these devices. I invited the ministers to take a look for themselves where these devices are sold on St. Maarten,” she added.
“It has been long enough now and the urgency professed by Ministers Ottley and [Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) Rodolphe – Ed.] Samuel is not translated into action.”
Wescot-Williams said international organisations have warned against this phenomenon and this matter was again highlighted in a recent Netflix documentary “Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul”.
“Yet, we on St. Maarten seem to be oblivious to what is happening around us and want to study the obvious. In my February letter, I pointed out the action that can be taken; in particular I singled out the Commodities Act that provides the avenue for the minister of health by national decree to regulate e-cigarettes. In fact, in his response, the minister concurred with my assertion and promised that “further regulations on e-cigarettes by a national decree” would be explored by the Inspectorate of VSA. I point out here that this does not require an ordinance (law). My call today, after sounding the alarm on vaping on numerous occasions and offering the government potential solutions to curb this problem, is a call of urgency.”
Wescot-Williams said she has attempted to bring attention to the issue across the board. “I have knocked on the doors of the Ministries of VSA and ECYS, respectively, and again in a recent meeting of Parliament on August 31, when I was informed that this matter is being dealt with by an inter-ministerial workgroup. Since this matter has been raised by me, a logical question would be what this group has come up with. I was promised an update within a week. I am still waiting. Will this be similar to the ban on single-use plastic bags, where Parliament is just strung along with no concrete answers?” MP Wescot asked.