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Cancer Society calls for action against tobacco use

The Samoa Cancer Society has called on the Government to intervene following the release of data that showed 12.4 per cent of youth in Samoa being reported as first time e-cigarette users.

The Society made the appeal when expressing concern at the findings of a Ministry of Health-run 2017 Global Youth Tobacco Survey, which targeted girls and boys aged between 13-15 years of age, and explored the prevalence and awareness of e-cigarettes [electronic cigarettes] among the youth of Samoa.

Although retail sources of e-cigarettes did not exist in Samoa during the survey, the survey showed what was described as “staggering results” of 12.4 per cent of youth being reported as first-time e-cigarettes users and 7.4 per cent as current e-cigarette users.

A further 8.2 per cent of the surveyed population thought that e-cigarette smoking is safe, with a high proportion (12.4 per cent) saying that they would enjoy e-cigarette smoking,” according to a statement released by the Society.

Samoa Cancer Society CEO, Shelley Burich, described the findings of the survey as “astonishing and heart-breaking” and appealed for Government action. 

“Astonishing and heart-breaking, particularly when this next young generation is being targeted by the tobacco industry to be the ‘next addictive generation’,” she said. “Samoa cannot afford our youth and future generations to be deceived by the lies of the tobacco industry. It is even more astonishing that the same survey also cites a significant increase of 13-15 year olds (44.2 per cent) purchasing cigarettes from a store or retail source, an increase of 7.9 per cent since the 2007 Global Youth Tobacco Survey.”

According to Ms Burich, it is time for the Government to act against the tactics and products of the tobacco industry.

“We call on the role of our Government to provide and strengthen national direction and control of tobacco industry tactics and products,” she added. “We also call on our aiga [families], grandparents and parents, to use the power of parental guidance to reach and connect with our youth and children, to expose the industries’ manipulative tactics to create a new generation of tobacco users.

“We want to empower youth to stand up to Big Tobacco by dispelling its lies and refusing to use its products. We want to empower youth to stand up to big tobacco by dispelling its lies and refusing to use its products.”

The statement by the Society was released to coincide with World No Tobacco Day on May 31.

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