This week has been an eventful one for the Samoa Cancer Society. The group has been at the heart of national efforts to fight tobacco consumption on these shores to improve the health of our people.
On Monday, the Society was part of one of Ministry of Health’s official World No Tobacco Day (W.N.T.D )activities. The day emphasised the importance of the W.N.T.D’s theme of ‘get ready for plain packaging’ and was also used to launch the much anticipated mCessation pilot project with the Auckland University Faculty of Medical and Health Science.
Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Talalelei Tuitama embraced the plain packaging measures as part of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control. He revealed that Samoa is considering its current tobacco regulations for the preparation for plain packaging.
“With our own outreaches and advocacy messages on tobacco use and control, the Samoa Cancer Society fully supports M.O.H with the ongoing advertising campaign on the benefits of quitting smoking and is happy to help it work towards the fulfillment of its obligations as a member state to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Treaty and also the Pacific Health Ministers aim towards a Tobacco Free Islands 2025,” a statement from the Society says.
Dr. Judith McCool from the School of Population Health, Auckland University spoke on the mCessation pilot project in partnership M.O.H.
She named the Samoa Cancer Society and Bluesky Samoa as two of the key collaborative partners who have helped get this pilot project to this point.
The mCessation project is a developing tool for smokers to quit and is a text messaging programme to give support for cessation (quit smoking).
There were many enjoyable and entertaining highlights during the launch, one of them being the Lepea Women’s committee performing a skit on ‘pushing’ tobacco out of their lives and ending with an entertaining siva.
The favorites of the day were the two college students who were invited by M.O.H to present and recite a speech and poem on plain packaging and tobacco use.
Simone Pua from St Joseph’s College presented his speech on ‘Get ready for plain packaging’ and made some very pertinent and valid remarks of his own.
“The annual cost of one person smoking can amount to the same as an annual salary,” he said.
“That money could be well spent on a child’s education, more food on the table.
“I suggest that the government of Samoa raises the price of cigarettes to $40 so that it becomes unaffordable…plain packaging must make a change.”
Another poem was written and beautifully recited by Raphay Posini from Avele College, where she spoke on behalf of all the children in the hospital due to being exposed to secondhand smoking.