NADI, Fiji, 30 April 2014 – Twenty-five countries in the Western Pacific Region came together to promote the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in the Region. The meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Health, Fiji in Nadi, and organized by the Convention Secretariat of the WHO FCTC in cooperation with the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific and WHO Division of Pacific Technical Support.
The President of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, delivered the keynote address. He noted the devastating toll tobacco use has on the Pacific and the need to support tobacco control efforts in order to save lives: “There is simply no reason why our people in the Western Pacific should suffer needlessly from tobacco.” He challenged Member States to scale-up tobacco control and enforcement measures.
The meeting objectives
- review and promote inter-country exchanges on implementation achievements and challenges;
- review and promote the use of instruments available for implementation of the Convention;
- discuss international and multisectoral cooperation, resources, and mechanisms of assistance for implementation of the Convention; and
- raise awareness of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products with a view to further promoting ratifications and entry into force of the protocol.
In the Western Pacific Region, it is estimated that two people die every minute from tobacco-related disease, and half of all men, women and children are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke at home and in public places.
“This meeting is an important opportunity to share information on best practices and successful approaches and to learn from each other to rid the Western Pacific Region of the poison known as tobacco,” said Dr Liu Yunguo, WHO Representative and Director, Pacific Technical Support.
For example, representatives from Solomon Islands discussed how they combatted tobacco industry interference during its effort to implement pictorial health warnings on all tobacco products. The representatives from the Philippines described their experience with increasing tobacco taxes at a national level and noted how advocating taxation as a measure to protect health was key to acquiring support.
The WHO FCTC is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO and entered into force on 27 February 2005. As of today, 178 countries are Parties to the WHO FCTC; including all Pacific island countries. The Western Pacific is the only region with 100% ratification of the Convention.
The Head of the Convention Secretariat for the WHO FCTC, Dr Haik Nikogosian, noted that the WHO FCTC has established itself as a major prevention tool. “Many strong tobacco control policies have been inspired and initiated by countries in this Region. Plain packaging, innovative policies on tobacco taxes, smoke-free cities and the declared plans to make countries tobacco free are some of them,” he said.
For more information, please contact:
Dr Carmen Audera-Lopez
Acting Team Leader, Tobacco Free Initiative
Telephone: +63 2 5289897
Dr Temo Waqanivalu
Coordinator, Noncommunicable Disease and Health Promotion
Telephone: +679 323 4100 / + 679 323 4127
Mr Ratu Saula Golea Volavola
Technical Officer (Health Promotion)
Telephone: + 679 323 4166