29 Jul 2013

Kiribati moves to combat high smoking rates

5:30 am on 29 July 2013

Kiribati, which has one of the highest smoking rates in the Pacific, is one of a growing number of countries in the region moving towards tighter tobacco control.

At the recently concluded Tenth Pacific Health Ministers meeting in Samoa, Health Ministers agreed to adopt a Tobacco-free Pacific Goal by 2025 as a way to mitigate the Non Communicable Disease crisis.

Kiribati's Minister for Health Dr Kautu Tenaua says the country has a long tradition of accepting tobacco as part of its culture and efforts to introduce Tobacco legislation in the past have evoked negative reactions from the public.

But Dr Tenaua says the tide changed when MPs endorsed anti-smoking legislation in parliament in April.

"They collectively decided that yes it is really something that needs to be addressed and seriously even endorsing the Bill that they feel will be a platform to work from."

Dr Kautu Tenaua says one of the main aims of the Bill is to increase the smoking age to 18.