Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, is standing by his government’s decision to grant a license for a second cigarette factory in the country, contradicting the government’s push for a healthier Samoa.
Speaking during his weekly media programme, Tuilaepa said there are no laws to prohibit the establishment of a new cigarette factory.
“If there was a 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 maintained.
“The government is trying to stop it (smoking) by increasing the prices and from that the government gets more money for its development.”
The cigarette factory is owned by Chinese businessman and Falevao chief, Tuituioaiga Teeking Weng. He is also the owner of the Coin Save chain of stores. Last week, veteran Member of Parliament for Falealupo, Aeau Peniamina Leavaise’eta, said the government would regret its decision.
“It’s a sad story,” Aeau said.
“Especially at a time where they had recently done promotion on fighting against tobacco use but now they have agreed to set up a factory to manufacture cigarettes locally.
“It’s really sad if this is the kind of development that the government is looking at (to pay debts) when these things affect the lives of our people in the long run.”
Aeau said that instead of leading by example the government “has totally ignored what is good for our people.
“It’s not a pathway our people should follow. The government has been preaching about bringing in doctors to deal with our N.C.Ds and cancer yet they don’t walk what they preach.
“My disappointment is the government eyeing revenue and neglecting healthy lifestyles.”