Health ministers want tobacco-free Pacific by 2025

Matangi Tonga Online:

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Pacific health ministers have spearheaded a campaign for a “Tobacco-free Pacific”.

The “Tobacco Free Pacific 2025” campaign was launched at the Joint Forum Economic and Pacific Health Ministers Meeting in Honiara, Solomon Islands on Friday 11 July, by Dr Shin Young-soo (WHO Regional Director), Tuiloma Neroni Slade (Secretary General of the Pacific Forum Secretariat) and Dr Colin Tukuitonga (South Pacific Community Director General).

The ambitious campaign aims to reduce smoking in the Pacific Islands to at least 5% by the year 2025. Currently in the Pacific the adult daily tobacco use prevalence is as high as 54.8%. Exposure to second hand smoke in the Pacific is also high. Data from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey indicate that rates of youth exposure in the home range from 56.8% in one country to as high as 76% in another.

Many would question its achievability but the campaign is determined by its official slogan “It can be done”.

Dr Young-soo described the importance of tobacco control, he said “Failure to control the tobacco epidemic would leave an entire generation exposed to a product known to kill its users and would continue to be a significant drain on the health systems in countries that can ill-afford it,”.

Smoking has been blamed for contributing to the current epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDS) in the Pacific. According to regional statistics, NCDS account for 75% of all deaths in the Pacific.

The Tobacco Free Pacific campaign consists of six actions:

  1. Raise tobacco taxes: increase excise tax to at least 70% of the price.
  2. Tobacco free areas such as homes, schools, villages, workplaces and churches to protect people from secondary smoke.
  3. Prevent tobacco industry interference.
  4. Support cessation services (services assisting in smokers to quit smoking).
  5. Monitor tobacco use.
  6. Enforce and strengthen tobacco control legislation.


Read story: Matangi Tonga Online

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