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Ireland, Fiji aims for complete smoke-free state

It sounds too good to be true, but it seems that the governments of Ireland and Fiji are aiming to make their countries smoke free. While the Irish health minister cites the health problems that tobacco cause, Fiji also cites the damage that tobacco-related diseases cause to the economy. Governments around the world should take notice of this, too.

from the BBC news:

‘Tobacco-free’ plan for Republic of Ireland

The Irish health minister has published a plan to make the state “tobacco-free” by 2025.

Dr James Reilly has defined a “tobacco-free Ireland” as a state where less than 5% of the population smoke.

According to the latest figures, 22% of people aged 15 and over regularly smoke cigarettes in the Republic of Ireland.

The plan makes 60 recommendations to significantly reduce smoking over the next 12 years. Tobacco would still be available, but at an increased cost.

The recommendations also include the introduction of a ban on smoking in cars where children are present and new on-the-spot fines for breaches of smoking laws.

The plan calls for greater restrictions on the types of outlets from which tobacco products can be sold, advocating a ban on all self-service cigarette vending machines and greater regulation of tobacco retailers.

It also sets out several recommendations for what it called the “de-normalisation” of tobacco use in Irish society.

The health minister said: “Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Ireland.

“Each year at least 5,200 people die from diseases caused by tobacco use. This represents almost one in five of all deaths,” Dr Reilly added.

The tobacco-free plan has been published almost a decade on from the Irish smoking ban.

In March 2004, the Republic of Ireland became the first state to introduce a total ban on smoking in the workplace, controversially including pubs and clubs in the legislation.

The ban has been largely hailed as a success, with a 97% compliance rate.

Earlier this year, a study of the effects of the ban estimated that up to 3,726 smoking-related deaths were prevented since 2004.

Reacting to the latest initiative to eradicate tobacco use, a spokesman for smokers’ group Forest Éireann told Irish broadcaster RTÉ it was “morally wrong to de-normalise smoking”

He said that would result in “stigmatising consumers of a legal product enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of adults throughout the country”.

“Smokers contribute a huge amount of money to the government through tobacco taxation,” he added.

“De-normalising tobacco will drive more and more people to the black market and the fringes of society.”

The Tobacco Free Ireland report was compiled by the Tobacco Policy Review Group.

The group consists of 12 staff from the Irish Department of Health, the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE)and the National Tobacco Control Office.

3 Oct 2013

from Torika Tokalau of the Fiji Times:

Moves to make Fiji tobacco-free

Fiji needs to move towards being a tobacco free-country.

This was the opinion of World Health Organisation co-ordinator NCD and health promotion Dr Temo Waqanivalu at the National Wellness Policy Symposium in Suva last week.

Dr Waqanivalu said being a tobacco-free country would go a long way for Fiji.

“NCD is the biggest burden in Fiji and the Pacific,” he said.

“Health and NCDs should be central to the discussion of sustainable economic development which really is the concept we need. It is now not just a health agenda, this is an economical issue.”

Dr Waqanivalu commended the Health Ministry’s efforts to the fight against NCDs by establishing the Tobacco Act in 1992 and Tobacco Decree 2010.

He called on other sectors to work with the ministry to ensure Fiji works towards a green economy.

“The drivers of some of these risk behaviours lie outside of health and some of them are trade and finance, in terms of the food items that find themselves on the shelves in Fiji as there is nothing much that the ministry can do about that.

“Trades and finance are the key gatekeepers as far as those are concerned, so a bit of policy on things like that would go a long way.

“The Health Ministry is going against a gradient that’s quite steep because of certain obligations out of other sectors.”

Dr Waqanivalu said Fiji was heading in a positive direction in the fight against NCDs but the next phase would need the assistance of other sectors.

7 Oct 2013

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