New graphic health warnings showing the dangers of tobacco use are being displayed on Solomon Islands made tobacco products.
Six images and messages educating the public of the harmful effects of smoking is now on both the front and back of cigarette packets and other tobacco products.
Images and messages include smoking causing lung cancer and blindness as well as harming unborn babies.
The new health warnings demonstrate the government’s commitment to the Solomon Islands Tobacco Control Act 2010 and the Tobacco Control Regulations 2013.
Solomon Islands now has one of the largest graphic health warnings requirements in the Pacific. Under the Tobacco Control Regulations, it is compulsory that all tobacco packaging display graphic health warnings on 70% of the front and 30% of the back of tobacco packaging from 1 January 2015. The entire tobacco sector in Solomon Islands must conform to this.
“The Tobacco Control Regulations are a great step toward ensuring that people are warned about tobacco – a poisonous product that causes disease and kills our people,” said Dr Cedric Alependava, Chair of the Tobacco Control Taskforce Committee.
Solomon Islands has a high rate of smoking, particularly among young people. Evidence in Solomon Islands shows that many people do not realise that smoking is a leading cause of preventable non-communicable diseases.
“In addition to informing the public about the harmful effects of tobacco products, graphic health warnings have been shown to discourage youth from starting to smoke as well as increase smokers’ attempts to quit,” said Dr. Audrey Aumua, World Health Organization Representative (WHO) to Solomon Islands.
“The Solomon Islands Government is committed to working with both the tobacco private sector and communities to educate people on the dangers of tobacco use, and to ensure that the risks of tobacco are well understood” said the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr Tautai Angikimua Kaitu’u.
The graphic warnings were selected and developed through focus groups with Solomon Islands community members (both smokers and non-smokers) as well as local health experts.
Other initiatives in Solomon Islands that follow the Tobacco Control Regulations include regulations on additives, testing of toxic constituents and reporting, and smoke-free areas such as on public transport and at the Honiara Central Market.
The Solomon Islands Government and WHO will continue to work to reduce tobacco consumption to improve the health of Solomon Islanders.