Today is ‘World No Tobacco Day’
Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga is urging all smokers to refrain from smoking today, “in hope that it is a beginning of a life as a non-smoker.” He also urges all local residents to “support all activities planned by the Department of Health, Tobacco/Diabetes Prevention Control Programs, Tobacco/Diabetes Prevention Coalition Board, and various government agencies,” as the territory observes “World No Tobacco Day.”
This year’s theme is: “Tobacco - A Threat to Development.”
Every year on May 31st, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and their partners, mark World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), “highlighting the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.”
Samoa News asked several storeowners if they would be willing to hold off on selling tobacco products today — in observance of WNTD — and all of them said no.
Even with the recent increase in the price of cigarettes (from an average of $4 two years ago to $7.95 and now between $10 and $12), storeowners report no difference in sales. As a matter of fact, some of them claim that cigarettes are selling more now than they did last year, as more and more young people are picking up a habit the claims 6 million lives a year - a number that is predicted to balloon to more than 8 million a year by 2030 if serious action isn’t taken.
Yesterday, Samoa News spoke to Fr. Vaiula Iulio, co-chair of the DOH Tobacco/Diabetes Prevention Coalition Board who said that this year, they are emphasizing the theme and outreach programs to different villages, including non-profit organizations like church/youth groups will be carried out throughout the month, “as part of the campaign to get people to cut down on tobacco use and eventually quit altogether.”
Fr. Vaiula broke it down by saying that development really is threatened by consistent tobacco use, noting the cost of a cigarette pack (currently $10-$12) in the territory adds up to about $70-$84 per week, if a person smokes a pack of cigarettes a day.
“That amount doubles when someone smokes two or more packs per day,” he added.
Samoa News mentioned to Fr. Vaiula that cigarette tax does in fact pour lots of money into the economy. According to Lolo’s proclamation, “Through increasing cigarette taxes worldwide by $1USD, an extra $190 billion USD could be raised for development. High tobacco taxes contribute to revenue generation for governments, reduce demand for tobacco, and offer an important revenue stream to finance development activities.”
Fr. Vaiula agreed. But he added “those same financial contributions came at a huge cost - your health. It’s not worth it.