Pacific aims to be tobacco-free by 2025
The World Health Organisation has launched its Tobacco Free Pacific Campaign in a bid to help the region become smokefree by 2025.
The World Health Organisation has launched its Tobacco Free Pacific Campaign in a bid to help the region reduce smoking prevalence to less than five percent by 2025.
A tobacco control advisor, Ada Moadsiri, says adult tobacco use for males in Kiribati is the highest in the region at 74 percent, and for women in Nauru, with 56 percent being smokers.
She told Mary Baines while the smokefree goal is ambitious, it has support from communities and political commitment, so is confident it will be successful.
ADA MOADSIRI: The Pacific Islands are taking action such as declaring smokefree public places to protect people from the dangers of second-hand smoke. They are also raising tobacco taxes which makes them more expensive, and thereby decreasing consumption of tobacco products which then decreases death and disease. And they're also enforcing tobacco control legislation amongst a number of other key actions that the Pacific Islands are taking to scale-up on tobacco control.
MARY BAINES: So the governments have been quite receptive to putting in place these changes?
AM: Yes, actually, the political commitment comes from the Pacific Island countries and territories themselves. The Pacific health ministers declared this goal in 2013 and our country donor partners and colleagues are very supportive and have been working very hard in tobacco control for a number of years and are quite geared up to achieve this goal for their people and for our Pacific Islands.
MB: What's the adult daily tobacco use at the moment in the region, is it quite high?
AM: It ranges quite a bit across the Pacific. We have one country where over 70 percent of the male population are current smokers and another island where as many, over as 50 percent of women are using tobacco currently. So it ranges quite a bit. There are some countries where female tobacco use prevalence is lower, but compared to other countries, as a region it is definitely still the most preventable leading cause of adult death and disease in the Pacific.
MB: By 2025, having less than five percent of the adult population smokefree is quite an ambitious goal. How do you think it will work?
AM: I do have a lot of faith that this is possible, because in the Pacific our communities are actually asking for support in achieving this goal. So even among smokers themselves they are asking for support so that people have a harder time finding places to use tobacco, making the product more expensive so instead of spending money on this killer product they are spending money on other goods and then they are reducing their consumption of the product, and people are actually looking for support in quitting, so cessation services are being requested. And so since this call is coming from our communities here in the Pacific, with the support of the World Health Organisation and other regional partners we will be able to achieve this goal. We have seen in New Zealand after they declared their tobacco free New Zealand goal for 2025, that tobacco use consumption is actually decreasing at an accelerated rate as they continue to implement tobacco control action, much like the ones that our Pacific Islands are doing now.
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