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Authorities advised to enforce control against tobacco interference

GOVERNMENT Ministries have been advised to enforce control measures against tobacco industry interference.

Non communicable Disease (NCD) Director, Dr Geoffrey Kenilorea, who is the Country’s Tobacco Focal Point Coordinator, said Tobacco Industry interference has been as active and rife in the Solomon Islands.

In an interview this week, Dr Kenilorea said the tobacco industry can get anywhere they can get into, but adds that the Ministry of Health no longer entertains them whenever they request a dialogue.

“We would like to advise other ministries to do the same thing to enforce the control measures against tobacco interference.”

He said in the meantime, how to counter and deal with tobacco industry interference is still not in any part of the country’s laws.

“But we want that part of the article to reflect inside Solomon Islands laws to restrict them from interfere with authorities.

“Tobacco industry has a multitude of tactics to shape and influence tobacco control policy.

“Revenue, employment of locals are some of the things among others they commonly talked about, this is their normal argument and we are working with the Ministry of Finance to minimise interaction with the industry,” he said.

Dr Kenilorea stressed they want other ministries to do what the Ministry of Health has done.

“This is if the industry want to interact with us, it must be in a written form on hard copy, because text messages, email and phone calls are banned.

“Everything we meet about must be made transparent to the public, these are the conditions that are set to meet with them, but once it comes to administrative matters, law and compliance then that is an area we can allow them to come so that we can tell them on areas they need to comply.

“It doesn’t mean we should follow what they say, we follow what is best for the country. The industry access with the Members of Parliament is quite easy, especially the ministers but we want to discourage those activities for the wellbeing of our people,” he said.

He said Solomon Islands ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and, in having done so, is committed to implementing tobacco control measures aligned with the FCTC.

“Solomon Islands is a member of the convention, and whatever the convention puts out, we as a country will have to abide to, and implement as part of tobacco control work in the country.

“And article 5.3 speaks loudly about tobacco industry interference. Tobacco industry has commercial interests, where as we are concerned of the health of our people,” Dr Kenilorea pointed out.

He said they have stated in some of their letters circulated to the industry that only issues with regards to law or compliance should be discussed because interference is a big issue because tobacco company go for their commercial and business interests.

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