This nation has been talking around measures to minimise smoking since the seventies and finally after some decades this is finally achieved and the lovely isles is taking on the brave direction that has been taken by many countries especially Europe, USA and Australia.
The truth is smoking causes enormous fatal illnesses
to individuals and does more harm to society that foot the huge health bills
and or care for the victims when they die of painful slow deaths.
The sad consequence of smoking has been fully accepted by tobacco companies in the developed world, USA, Europe and Australia that have long taken measures that Solomon Islands is just starting. Tobacco sale is so restricted that it is more difficult to buy tobacco in these countries than alcohol.
Tobacco advertisements are banned. Not only that but tobacco companies admitted the harm they did and of compensating these damages, funded health projects worth millions of dollars.
Many developed countries now aim for smoke free country. The sad shift out of all these is tobacco companies are moving their killing trade into developing world where regulations are either weak or non-existent or where leaders can be easily bribed.
I urge all not to let Solomon Islands be such a
Just travel down to Australia and see the Tobacco
control there. With these actions the ill effects of tobacco are on decline in
developed countries but are increasing rapidly in developing and poor
In China during the Cultural Revolution just everyone smoked, children up to adults and I was there in 1979 and personally witnessed this.
Consequently what followed was epidemic of fatal lung cancers in the last three decades and I was also in China six times in 1990s and again personally witnessed just about every hospital had to have facilities for chest operations, thoracotomy, for lung cancers that are all terminal.
Now China is trying to reverse the situation vigorously.
This is a lesson the world over have and should have
In Solomon Islands we are already seeing increase cases of lung cancers, heart disease and also terminal obstructive airway diseases related to smoking.
Many really productive leaders in society have
either passed away or are suffering with the inevitable consequences of
We in the medical profession see these very sad sufferers every day.
Unfortunately with our limited facilities there is
not much we can do therefore prevention is the best and this is what the Act is
In the past only adults smoked but in recent years just anyone can grab a smoke, thinking it is a fashion and sadly become addicted.
Very sad tobaccos are sold in every street corner and even very sad by school premises.
The country must brace itself as 10-20 years from now there will be high incidences of lung cancers and obstructive airway diseases as the result of increase smoking in the young today.
We have already seen rapid increasing heart diseases.
People now smoke at earlier age and longer and by the time they are 40 years many would develop the fatal effects of smoking, lung cancer, obstructive airway disease and also heart diseases.
There is no way around these serious consequences.
The time to act is now!
An argument recently put forward by our local tobacco company, I agree I would support any firms that provide employment opportunities for many.
But not for producing a product that will cause enormous harm and fatal consequences to the users and this I am afraid we cannot and should not entertain.
The millions in tax revenue to government should not hide the fact that the government in meeting its obligation has spent millions in looking after the sufferers, those chronically ill by the substance.
But these needed government resources, medicines, medical workers times, etc. are all wastages as the consequences of smoking are incurable. The serious effects to families of the victims, as we see today, in the care of the ill, are also losses to their society.
This is what smoking gives. Millions in medical care bills and millions in productivity losses of the victims and their families looking after them till inevitably they pass on to another world.
Yes there are other unfortunate social behaviours
with some fatal consequences but smoking is the much studied and known
association with deadly fatal consequences.
The argument that government will lose $130 million in tobacco tax revenues exposes how much the company is earning from smokes.
My goodness so knowing what proportion of income is taxed the company must be making billions on the poor and disadvantaged local population especially increasing number of youths who pick up the unhealthy habits.
The company interest, as rightly for any investor, is its own profit and not government taxes.
The government responsibility is to look after the welfare and health of its own citizens.
Yes, I support and urge the country to proceed onto with the vital actions and hope in the future we have a more healthy population not impinged by the pangs of the consequence of smoking.
By Dr Nathan Kere
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