More than 1,200 Fijians die from tobacco smoking every year – Dr Mahmoud

More than 1,200 Fijians die from tobacco smoking every year – Dr Mahmoud

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Monday 05/06/2023
Acting World Health Organisation Representative in the South Pacific, Dr Nuha Mahmoud (centre) presents awards to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the Fiji Police Force

More than 1,200 Fijians die from tobacco smoking every year, and it is also causing Fiji millions of dollars of economic loss due to health care costs and productivity loss.

While highlighting this during the World No Tobacco Day at the Holiday Inn, Acting World Health Organisation Representative in the South Pacific, Dr Nuha Mahmoud, says tobacco also pollutes soil and water.

She says WHO and neighbouring Pacific countries have looked up to Fiji for its strong enforcement of tobacco control laws, and having an established enforcement mechanism in collaboration with organisations beyond the health sector, namely the Fiji Police Force and the Fiji Revenue and Customs Services.

Dr Mahmoud says while each organisation have their own different mandate, it joined forces with a shared recognition of the need to strengthen the country's capacity around enforcement, surveillance, investigation and prosecution based on the tobacco control laws from the sub-national to the national level.

Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says there has been a steady increase in Non-Communicable Diseases in Fiji, with 95 percent of NCDs due to lifestyle choices, one of which is tobacco use.

Dr Fong says if people make the wrong choice, then they are part of the statistic of 80 percent of deaths caused due to NCDs.

He urges all Fijians to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect our health and environment.

Meanwhile, the Ministry for Health says tobacco is dangerous, and of the more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide and ammonia.

The Ministry will continue its efforts to protect its citizens, promote healthy choices, advocate tobacco-free settings and equally enforce the Tobacco Control Act and Regulations.

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