By Florence Jonduo – EM TV Online
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has applauded the progress and effort Pacific Island countries have undertaken so far to reduce the use of tobacco by raising taxes on tobacco products.
According to a radio interview by a local Palau journalist Bernadette Carreon to the ABC Pacific Beat, countries like Palau, Fiji, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga have taken measures to address the increased number of smokers by imposing a rise in cigarette tax.
This follows the 2013 adopted goal of a “Tobacco Free Pacific by 2025”.
Tobacco Free Pacific 2025 is a campaign that was launched in 2013 by WHO in a bid to help the region reduce smoking prevalence to less than five per cent by 2025.
Pacific Health Ministers took this campaign on board to curb down on the increased number of smokers in the Pacific region.
In line with WHO, “reduced tobacco use would mean less deaths and diseases.”
WHO further revealed that tobacco use was the most preventable cause of death worldwide.
Meanwhile, Dr. Alan Lopez, one of the authors of a study carried out by the Melbourne University’s School of Population and Global Health, says “the health toll of smoking in the Pacific and Asia is significant and it will escalate in the next 10 or 20 years as current smokers start to die prematurely”.
He said that, “in countries like Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Kiribati, the smoking rates for men are above 50 per cent and they are very high for females as well”.