1200 Fijians Die From Smoking Each Year

President Ratu Wiliame Maivalili Katonivere highlighted this during the World No Tobacco Day celebration at the Civic Centre in Suva, yesterday
01 Jun 2022 12:27
1200 Fijians Die From Smoking Each Year
President Ratu Williame Katonivere with Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong with guests while declaring Stinson Praade A Tobacco-Free Zone during World No Tobacco Day on May 31, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Each year Fiji records more than 1200 deaths due to tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

President, Ratu Wiliame Maivalili Katonivere, highlighted this during the World No Tobacco Day celebrations at the Civic Centre in Suva, yesterday.

Ratu Wiliame said Fiji also suffered huge economic losses because of tobacco use.

“Seventy-one per cent of these deaths are among those under the age of 70-years-old, which results approximately in $229 million in economic costs,” he said.

“In addition to this, Fiji suffers further economic losses amounting to approximately $12million in medical expenses as a result of smoking.

“Approximately $79million from reduced productivity among workers who feel sick from illness related to excessive smoking.

“Overall, in Fiji, we are being robbed of nearly 3 per cent of the GDP by smoking practices and its long-term effects on our people.”

The President said the tobacco epidemic was one of the largest public health threats in the world.

“Tobacco is solely responsible for over eight million deaths each year,” he said.

“Of this, 1.2 million deaths are for non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke, this means every minute as we speak, 15 people lose their lives because of this deadly product.”

He said tobacco’s toll on the health of the overall population and on the working-age people translated into significant health care costs that imposed considerable burdens on the health system.

“It greatly results in the loss of productivity due to sickness and premature death posing a threat to the economic growth worldwide, including Fiji,” Ratu Wiliame said.

“One-third of the adult population smoke tobacco and one in 10 youths use the same form of tobacco.”

This annual observance of World No Tobacco Day focused on informing and educating the public on the dangers of using tobacco.


Smoking in prohibited areas

About 200 to 500 individuals are booked annually for smoking in prohibited areas.

The Ministry of Health’s chief health inspector, Vimal Deo gave the statistics during the World No Tobacco Day celebrations.

Mr Deo said spot fines could range from $200 to $1000.

“$1000 can be for example if retail shops actually engage in selling cigarettes to minors, which is an offence so fines can vary,” he said.

“If there’s an advertisement that is done on tobacco which is prohibited by law, fines can range from $5,000 to $50,000.”

When questioned about people seen smoking in a non-smoking zone despite the law and if there was a lack of enforcement, Mr Deo remained adamant that they enforced the law.

“One of the things we’ve done today is put up a sign reminding people what we do with places where smoking is prohibited.

“Putting up signs to tell people and keep on reminding them that these are the do’s and don’ts around tobacco and smoking.

“We continue to do this, we also do enforcement training and updating our workforce,” he said.

Mr Deo said 40 officers were being trained in tobacco enforcement.



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