Tobacco use is a major cause of preventable, premature death in many Pacific islands. To combat this scourge, WHO’s Regional Director for the Western Pacific Region Dr Shin Young-soo, SPC ‘s Direct General Dr Colin Tukuitonga and the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Tuiloma Neroni Slade, and Chairperson of the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting launched the Tobacco Free Pacific campaign today.
The campaign will drive action to meet the goal the Pacific Ministers of Health adopted of a Tobacco Free Pacific (<5% adult tobacco use) for each Pacific Island country and territory by 2025.
Tobacco use fuels the NCD crisis globally, and the Pacific is no exception. In the Pacific, the adult daily tobacco use prevalence is as high as 54.8%. Exposure to second hand smoke is also high in the Pacific. For example, data from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey indicate that rates of youth exposure in the home range from 56.8% in one country to as high as 76% in another.
The Tobacco Free Pacific 2025 campaign has a truly ambitious goal. It links up with Tobacco Free campaigns currently in progress in some Pacific islands. The regional campaign slogan “It can be done,” is a testament to the determination and confidence of Pacific islands to reduce smoking cheapest cigarettes to 5% or less by the year 2025.
“Failure to control the tobacco epidemic would leave an entire generation exposed to a product known to kill its users and would continue to be a significant drain on the health systems in countries that can ill-afford it,” commented Dr Shin at the launch.
The Tobacco Free Pacific campaign launched today is comprised of six main action areas. Based on evidence and recommendations of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCFC), the actions are: