SPC Advises Pacific Communities To Cut Tobacco

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Secretariat of the Pacific Community Noumea, New Caledonia

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Every year, tobacco kills nearly six million people. It remains the largest preventable cause of death on the planet.

Tobacco use contributes immensely to the nearly 80% of deaths due to non-communicable diseases in the Pacific region, including heart disease and cancer.

Yet, while the Pacific region leads the world in signing up to a global initiative to protect people from the harmful effects of tobacco, there is still a long way to go to ensure polices are put in place and enforced.

All eligible Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) have ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a key tool in the fight against tobacco.

However, more than half the population in Tokelau, Kiribati, Nauru and Wallis and Futuna smoke daily as do over one third of people in the Cook Islands, Samoa and Solomon Islands.

'It is crucial that tobacco laws are updated regularly and that PICTs ensure they are enforced at the country level,’ says the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Tobacco and Alcohol Adviser Ms. Jeanie McKenzie.

Effective enforcement involves understanding what constitutes an offence under national law and communicating this information to the community, monitoring compliance and developing procedures to prepare cases of infringement for prosecution.

‘Common offences include selling tobacco to minors, allowing smoking in indoor areas or displaying tobacco advertising in shops,’ says Ms. McKenzie.

SPC's Public Health Division supports PICTs in developing their tobacco control legislation and enforcement mechanisms – assistance that is directly helping Ministries of Health control tobacco in their countries.

‘SPC was proud to support Cook Islands with the development of its National Tobacco Action Plan recently and congratulates Cooks Islands on the progress made to date,’ says Ms. McKenzie.

Since last year’s enforcement training in Cook Islands, health inspectors have been visiting tobacco retailers to monitor compliance and have successfully completed a Controlled Purchase Operation. This exercise tests whether or not tobacco is being sold to minors. No retailers were found to be selling tobacco to minors during the most recent exercise.

On this World No Tobacco Day, 31 May, SPC encourages all Pacific Islanders to quit smoking and reduce their exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

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