Over 200 tobacco-related deaths annually: report

By Adel Fruean 12 July 2021, 5:00PM

A report on tobacco use and consumption in Samoa has found that 25.6 per cent of adults aged 15–64 use tobacco products which is leading to an estimated 226 deaths annually.

The findings were highlighted in a report titled “Investment Case for Tobacco Control in Samoa” published on the official website of the United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P.) for Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau.

The report was jointly prepared by Samoa’s Ministry of Health, RTI International, UNDP, World Health Organisation and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat.  

According to the report, Samoa has enacted a ban on smoking in some public places including healthcare facilities, educational facilities, universities, government buildings, workplaces and public transit.

However, smoking is not comprehensively banned in clubs or bars in Samoa, says the report.  

“Additionally, experts rate compliance with existing bans as ‘low’ and there are no funds dedicated for enforcement,” read the report.

Samoa ratified the W.H.O. F.C.T.C. in November 2005: Tobacco Control Act 2008, Tobacco Control Regulations 2013 and Tobacco Control Amendment Act 2019 which addresses obligations under the Convention comprehensively. 

The report says these measures: ban smoking in most public places, workplaces and public transport; require pictorial health warnings; and prohibit many forms of direct and indirect tobacco advertising and promotion.

“Samoa’s latest legislative achievement, the Tobacco Control Amendment Act 2019, bans point of sale display of tobacco products, prohibits sale of tobacco to minors under age 21, introduces licensing requirements for manufacture, import and distribution, bans discounts and internet sales of tobacco products, and allows for regulation of additional smoke-free areas including ‘on the spot’ fines and issuance of infringement notices.”

In June 2018, Samoa acceded to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

In addition, strong fiscal and regulatory measures can powerfully influence norms by signaling to the population that tobacco use is harmful, not just for users but also those around users including family, colleagues and workers.

“The Samoa Tobacco Control Act of 2008, Tobacco Control Regulations of 2013 and the Tobacco Control Amendment Act of 2019 set limits on smoking in workplaces and public spaces, regulated tobacco advertising, and mandated graphic warning labels. 

“To further protect the health of its population, and to honor its obligations as a party to the WHO FCTC, Samoa should strengthen existing policies and implement additional measures to reduce demand for tobacco.

“In Samoa, 36.5 per cent of men and 13.7 per cent of women aged 18 to 64 smoke tobacco.”

By Adel Fruean 12 July 2021, 5:00PM

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