The Ministry of Health will continue to object to smoking despite the government granting another license to allow a tobacco factory in the country.
During an interview with the Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, he maintained that Health’s position is that tobacco is not good for anyone’s health.
“We are advertising that tobacco is a health hazard,” he said.
“But most tobacco factories are complying with regulations that they are forced to place those photos on packet of cigarettes to remind people that it’s bad for them. We can’t say that cigarettes are good – it’s proven to be bad for your health but it’s also comes down to the decision of a person.”
Leausa said cigarettes are heavily taxed because of their negative impact on health.
He added that the most expensive campaign is one that is against what people do, like smoking.
“I feel that the only reason why the factories are still in business is because of us (smokers),” said Leausa. “And we advise people it’s not good for their health.” The Director General was also asked how much the Ministry spends on their smoke-free campaign.
In response, Leausa said he could not say specifically as the Ministry does health promotions on many different diseases put together.
“But I can say that once you go to the media (advertisements), the package is very expensive.”
The new cigarette factory is owned by Chinese businessman, Tuituioaiga Teeking Weng. He is also the owner of the Coin Save chain of stores.
Last week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi defended the government’s decision to grant the license.
He said there are no are no laws to prohibit the establishment of a new cigarette factory.
“If there was legislation to stop the production of cigarettes and the importation of cigarettes, then that topic would be important,” he said.
“We cannot stop people who have already made the decision to smoke cigarettes.”
Tuilaepa said there are more important issues to talk about. He added that the new tobacco factory would not mean cheaper cigarettes and easier access to cigarettes for members of the public.
“The prices (of cigarettes) will continue to increase,” he said. “The government is trying to stop it (smoking) by increasing the prices and from that the government gets more money for its development.”