Tobacco kills over 1,000 Fijians annually

May 27, 2022 4:10 pm

Assistant Minister for Health Alexander O'Connor during the World No Tobacco Day. [Image Supplied]

Fiji records more than 1, 200 deaths due to tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke annually.

Assistant Minister for Health, Alexander O’Connor, says one-third of Fiji’s adult population smokes tobacco.

O’Connor says the Global Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted in Fiji in 2016, shows that 7.6 percent of students between the ages of 13 and 15 are tobacco smokers, and this includes both male and female students.

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He adds the results further record that around 30.7% of the students are exposed to tobacco smoke or second-hand smoking in their own homes.

The Assistant Minister says this data alone is alarming and indicates a worrying trend should the exposure level increase in the coming year.

O’Connor says out of the 7.6% of students who smoke cigarettes within the study population, more than half are already considering quitting, which again speaks volumes of the need for a supportive environment in homes, schools, and the communities.

He adds smoking also impacts the environment, and this year’s theme for World No Tobacco Day is “Tobacco: Threat to our environment.”

O’Connor says in Fiji, it is estimated that each year 30,385 kilograms of cigarette butts, much of which is toxic plastic, end up in the ocean after cigarette use.

He adds the weight is equivalent to one humpback whale, 60 tiger sharks, or 233 green sea turtles.

The Assistant Minister has reiterated that tobacco control requires a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach with community involvement and support.