20 May 2013
The new warnings are a positive move towards reducing smoking rates in the Pacific region, where up to four of every five adults smoke, according to a communiqué from the 9th Meeting of Ministers of Health for the Pacific Island Countries in 2011.
Fiji’s Minister for Health Dr Neil Sharma said that the new health warnings would definitely have an impact on the smoking rates in Fiji.
“The new warnings will also help deter our children and future generations from smoking,” Dr Sharma said.
This is good news because a 2005 Global Youth Tobacco survey of Fiji found that more than one in 10 students used some form of tobacco, and their exposure to second hand-smoke was high. Almost half of the students surveyed lived in homes where people smoked, the study found.
Fiji’s new requirements are pursuant to the Tobacco Control Regulations 2012 that were approved 8 January 2013, and published in the Government of Fiji Gazette Supplement on 8 February 2013. The Regulations also contain warning requirements for tobacco products other than cigarettes.
The Ministry’s Tobacco Control Unit Head Aminiasi Tavui said in the Fiji Times online that the ministry would provide a three-month buffer period when packets with text warnings only could be sold on the domestic market.
“From July 1 to September 30, we will allow the textual warnings to go out and then the graphic warnings will start in the market,” Mr Tavui said.