Fiji has been recognised and commended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its efforts to combat the consumption of tobacco products.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MOHMS) was today awarded the ‘World No Tobacco Day’ Award for raising awareness and advocacy in the control of illicit trade of tobacco products.
Every year, WHO recognises individuals or organisations in each of the six WHO regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control through the WHO Director-General Special Recognition Awards and the World No Tobacco Day Awards.
Fiji is the only Pacific Island nation that has signed the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade of Tobacco Products. Illicit trade of tobacco products is the production, import, export, purchase, sale, or possession of tobacco goods which fail to comply with legislations.
The Minister for Health and Medical Services, Hon. Jone Usamate highlighted a recent global school-based health survey in Fiji that concluded that over 55 per cent of children aged between 13 to 15 years said they had adults smoking in their vicinity.
Minister Usamate said Fiji has designated smoke-free public places such as workplaces, markets and retail shops in order to protect the public at large from second-hand smoke.
“Fiji has expanded education and awareness programs about the dangers of tobacco use and second-hand smoke in schools with the support of the Ministry of Education’s National Substance Abuse Advisory Council,” Minister Usamate said.
The Minister commended the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority on increasing taxes on tobacco products each year.
“My Ministry has begun plans for establishing cessation services with 100 nursing staff across Fiji that are trained to deliver brief tobacco cessation interventions. We will continue to build capacity to provide social support needed to help smokers quit.”
WHO representative and Division of Pacific Technical Support director, Dr Liu Yunguo said the illicit trade of tobacco products was a major global concern.
“Illicit tobacco products draw young people into tobacco experimentation and use because they are more affordable. Such illicit products mislead young tobacco users by not displaying health warnings,” Dr Yunguo said.
Minister Usamate said tobacco control requires a multi-sectorial approach with community involvement and support.