Samoa joined the rest of the world to commemorate World No Tobacco Day on Wednesday.
The day highlights the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use advocating for effective actions to reduce tobacco consumption.
This year’s theme is “Tobacco – A threat to Development.”
“Tobacco use costs national economies enormously through increased health care cost and decreased productivity. It worsens health inequalities and exacerbates poverty as the poorest people spend less on essentials such as food, education and health care,” said the Associate Minister of Health, Salausa Dr. John Ah Ching
“The Samoa STEPS Survey 2013 shows a decrease in the prevalence rate of tobacco use since the 2002 STEPS survey (40.4% in 2002 down to 27.1% in 2013).
“This has been realized through the ongoing efforts of the government of Samoa and its Health Sector in strengthening the mechanisms and control measures that are in place.
“As a government, as partners in health, as health professionals and as a community we all need to accelerate tobacco control efforts to reduce premature deaths associated with tobacco use including cardiovascular diseases, cancer and chronic pulmonary diseases.”
According to Salausa, this year’s theme highlights the link between the use of tobacco products, tobacco control and sustainable development and to encourage countries to include tobacco control in their national responses to 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
“This depicts the support given to member states and civil society to combat tobacco industry interference in political processes, in turn leading to a stronger national tobacco control action.
“A threat to development of tobacco also puts more emphasis for countries to encourage broader public and partner participation in national, regional and global efforts to develop and implement best development strategies and plans and achieve goals that prioritize action on tobacco control.
“Furthermore, it demonstrates how individuals can contribute to making a sustainable, tobacco-free world, either by committing to never taking up tobacco products, or by quitting the habit.
“There have been ongoing efforts by the Samoan Government through its Health Sector in strengthening the mechanisms and systems in place on tobacco control. Awareness”
“Program is very crucial to pushing these strategies forward in order to increase compliance and strengthen the enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act 2008 as well as the Tobacco Control Regulations 2013.
In March this year, a series of consultations has been held on the proposed amendments of the Tobacco Act and they are yet to be finalized and to be submitted to Cabinet.
“Avenues such as sports have been utilized to advocate health messages and increase awareness especially amongst the school children and young people on the adverse effects of smoking tobacco products.
“Health Education through mass media campaigns and community advocacies is still ongoing on the harmful effects of tobacco products. Samoa Cancer Society on their efforts as well continues to raise awareness on tobacco effects and through their multi-media campaigns.”