THE country may soon see a third tobacco company in the market.
The revelation comes as World No Tobacco Day was marked in Honiara on Wednesday.
Director of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) and Country Focal Point for Tobacco Control Dr Geoff Kenilorea told the Solomon Star a third tobacco company is eying the local market.
“I heard from Customs that an overseas tobacco firm has their building materials offloaded at the ports wharf,” DrKenilorea said.
“But we haven’t receive an application from them as yet,” he added.
He said the name of the company is not immediately known.
“…the Tobacco Control Act 2010 does not restrict the number of tobacco companies operating here.
“So if a new tobacco company submits its application and meets all the requirements under the Act, they can open their factory here.
“We are currently working on ways to control or limit the number of tobacco companies allowed to operate here.”
The two existing companies are Solomon Islands Tobacco Company Ltd and Solomon Sun Cigarette Company.
Dr Kenilorea said it is up to the Ministry of Health to decide whether two is already more than enough.
“In actual fact, the best case scenario would be, if we did not have any company manufacturing locally at all.
“What we can do at this time now is to ensure that the Tobacco Control Act 2010 is fully implemented so that our people will be more productive, healthier and thus happier.”
Dr Kenilorea added the full implementation of the tobacco control laws is not only for the Ministry of Health or just for the police or for the government for that matter.
“The law is the people and the call goes out for everyone concerned to be empowered and to see that the law is upheld for the good of the health for the people of this nation.”
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS)Dr Tenneth Dalipanda earlier told the Solomon Star they have not received a new application for manufacturing of tobacco products as yet.
But he said there may be an interested company applying for a licence.
“The Ministry of Health only involves when an application is submitted, we issue licence once the company meets the criteria of our regulations.
“The Tobacco Act does not prevent any company from applying for a licence.
“So we are looking at how we can deal with this loophole through the amendment of the Act,” Dr Dalipanda stated.
The World Health Organization (WHO) office in Honiara said the Tobacco Act 2010 alone is not enough to combat the increasing trend of smoking.
“That’s why WHO is also supporting the ministry of health as it develops a Tobacco Control Enforcement Policy and training package, which will be rolled out in the coming months,” WHO representative Dr Sevil Huseynova told the World No Tobacco Day event yesterday.
In his keynote address, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said the Government is committed to tackling this problem.
“Under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, we agreed to enact local laws safeguard the health of our nation – protecting our population from all walks of life from the threats of tobacco,” Mr Sogavare said.
“To date, we delivered on this promise with the Tobacco Control Act 2010 and the Tobacco Control Regulations of 2013 and 2015 respectively,” he added.
Mr Sogavare said the enforcement of these laws is paramount and on that note congratulated the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the collaborative work they are doing with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.
By TEDDY KAFO