Yesterday was World No Tobacco Day with the theme “We need more food, not tobacco”. It aims at raising awareness of alternative crop production and marketing opportunities for tobacco farmers.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that globally, around 3.5 million hectares of land are converted for tobacco growing each year and that tobacco industries interfere with attempts to substitute tobacco growing with food farming, contributing to the global food crisis.
In the Pacific, the effort to advocate for an increase in farming of food for consumption is also confronted by the impacts of climate change and natural disasters. It is therefore significant to support and empower the local farmers to grow nutritious crops that are sustainable for consumption and to support local economies.
The prevalence of smoking in the Pacific is still significant with around 50% in some countries. The Pacific Community (SPC) continues to support countries for tobacco control by developing and implementing effective policies and legislation on sales and licensing, taxation, smoke-free environments, plain packaging, health warnings, advertising, promotion, sponsorship and tobacco industry interference. Several countries have shown improvement in tobacco control, as reported by the Pacific Monitoring Alliance for NCD Action (MANA) 2021 -2022 update, however, there are many areas that need to be strengthened especially the need to regulate the increasing use of e-cigarettes and locally grown tobacco.
The region is making progress and heading in the right direction through the implementation of policies and regulations for tobacco control while also ensuring that everyone across the society is involved to encourage and promote healthy-seeking behaviours so that we have a healthy future generation of Pacific people.