14 Jul 2003

Shut down Tongan cigarette company expected to resume activity shortly

4:34 pm on 14 July 2003

A new cigarette company in Tonga, shut down last week by Health Authorities just four days after starting operations, could be back in production shortly.

The company, funded by a Chinese businessman, got Government approval to set up late last year, against the advice of the Government's own health officials.

The company was expected to export tobacco products while providing employment for Tongans, but the Ministry of Health's Dr Viliame Puloka says it was importing cigarettes and selling them locally.

He says the company was shut down because it did not have health certificates covering the workplace or the workers.

Dr Puloka, who is in charge of health promotion and non-communicable diseases, says the idea of Tonga having a cigarette factory is ridiculous, but he says it could soon be back in business.

"unfortunately I think after they have fulfilled their requirements then we cannot stop them, but from the Ministry of Health, of course we hope they wouldn't open, but if they fulfil all the requirements that are needed, then we won't have any power to stop them then"