1,200 Fijians die annually due to Tobacco

May 31, 2023 12:25 pm

Tobacco consumption kills more than 1,200 Fijians every year, causing Fiji an economic loss of more than millions of dollars due to health care costs and productivity losses.

Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says Fiji is no exception, with the growth of tobacco farms around the country fueled by the change in tobacco use from manufactured cigarettes to the commonly known suki.

He adds that there is also a threat of accessible fertile land being used for tobacco farming that saw a decline in nutritious root crops, fruits, and vegetables, which has driven the cost upwards, prompting consumers to choose the cheaper and not so nutritious balanced diet.

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Fong adds that whatever way is taken to promote tobacco, it needs to be understood that fixing to get a short-term gain cannot be justified by long-term pain.

“The Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services continues its efforts to protect its citizens, promote healthy choices, advocate tobacco-free settings, and equally enforce the Tobacco Control Act and regulations. It is our responsibility to ensure that tobacco control through a multi-sectorial approach with community involvement and support ensures a tobacco free society.”

Fong says the idea of balancing world recovery and trade with long-term health is an important discussion point in making sure that the health agenda remains part of the discussion and part of the consideration.

Fiji was also recognized today as a recipient of the World No Tobacco Day 2023 awards for the Western Pacific Region for multiple collaborations in tobacco control in our nation despite the challenges and strong industry presence.

Today marks World No Tobacco Day with the theme “Grow Food, Not Tobacco”.