12 Sep 2006

An estimated 80% of Fiji deaths due to lifestyle

10:22 am on 12 September 2006

Fiji's preventative health minister, Udit Narayan, says tobacco smoking is responsible for up to 80 percent of deaths from non-communicable diseases.

He said in Fiji, the prevalence of smokers in the population is 37 percent, with 22 percent of youth who start smoking, before the age of 10.

Mr Narayan said studies had shown that tobacco use and poverty were inextricably linked and that in some low-income countries, as much as 10-percent of the total household expenditure was on tobacco.

Fiji Live reports Mr Narayan saying that tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world and the World Bank estimated that the additional cost of treating the disease caused by tobacco use, was billions of dollars per year.

He said the most effective way to control it was to implement high taxes on tobacco products, ban tobacco advertising and impose smoke-free policies.