Law gives 15-year-olds approval to sell tobacco

A law that Parliament passed last month now makes it legal for children aged 15 years and older to sell cigarettes.

While the legal age to purchase tobacco products remains unchanged at 21, amendments to the Tobacco Control Act that the Parliament passed last month enables children 15-years and older to sell tobacco.

Under the approved amendments, the Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Health has the authority to issue and revoke tobacco licenses for manufacturers, importers, distributors, nightclub owners and hotels. 

The permitted weight and size of a cigarette in a packet — which has been approved is permitted to be sold by retailers – must be approved by the CEO. 

Also the Ministry of Health can “conduct testing audits of tobacco products at manufacturers and importers facilities at the cost of the manufacturer and importer.”

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Furthermore, the law says if the CEO rejects an application for a license application, the Minister can overrule that decision.  

“Under this Act, the applicant may appeal in writing to the Minister against that decision and if the Minister is satisfied that the provisions of this Act will not be contravened, the Minister may direct that the license be issued." 

“The license for a manufacture of tobacco products will be valid for three years while the importers, distributor, hotel and nightclubs will be valid for a period of one year.” 

The fees under this Act are proposed by the Health Ministry and are subject to the consideration and approval of the National Revenue Board. This law also allows for the establishment of the National Tobacco Control Committee and that members must a representative of the Ministry of Health who shall be the Chairperson and Secretary. 

As well representatives from the Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture; Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development; Samoa Police Service; Customs Division of the Ministry for Revenue; Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee; Samoa Cancer Society; and of the Samoa National Youth Council. 

The functions of the National Tobacco Control Committee are to develop a Multi-Sectoral Work plan to assist the implementation of the Tobacco Control Act 2008, and adhere to international obligations to the Framework Convention of Tobacco 2019, 

The Committee is mandated by law to provide a quarterly report to the Minister of Health, according to the Act.

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