17 Jul 2008

Samoa adopts law to restrict smoking

4:03 pm on 17 July 2008

The Samoan government has passed a new tobacco control law which is hoped to curb the country's high smoking rate.

The new tobacco control bill went through its third reading in parliament this week and was passed this morning.

The legislation includes restrictions on smoking in working places, public transport, restaurants, bars and night clubs, with provisions for separate outdoor smoking areas.

The law imposes a ban on the sale of tobacco to people under 21 years of age and prohibits the sale of single cigarette sticks instead of a whole packet.

The CEO for the Ministry of Health, Palanitina Tupuimatagi-Toelupe, says tobacco use has led to a concerning rate of diabetes and high blood pressure, which affects more than 20 percent of adults aged 25-64 years.

"Tobacco use has increased tremendously in the last five years. 40 percent of our adults are smoking and they correlate to the problems that we have with non communicable diseases as well as heart attacks and heart problems."

Ms Tupuimatagi-Toelupe say there have been programmes for many years but none has had enough impact on curbing the habits of long-term smokers.