Tobacco enforcement awaits funds
ENFORCEMENT of the Tobacco Control Act in the country will continue when funds are available.
Non communicable Disease (NCD) Director, Dr Geoffrey Kenilorea who is also a member of the Tobacco Technical Group said a licence system at the Inland Revenue is being set up.
In an interview yesterday, Dr Kenilorea said the system is established as stipulated in the Tobacco Control Act to wire in funds collected from tobacco licences.
Dr Kenilorea said currently, only manufacturers and importers have paid their licenses.
He said they set up the establishment of the system in August last year, and funds that are sourced to the system are basically for the enforcement.
“Funds start pouring in, and since it’s a new setup we continue to work with the Ministry of Finance to channel the money through the fund as stipulated by the legislation.
“We are encouraged that the fund is set up and now that the money will be obtain for this course,” he said.
Dr Kenilorea said there is a committee that is also spelt out under the Act to administer the fund.
“The tobacco technical advisory group has no discretion over the fund.
“The enforcement plans are there, and we hope if funds are ready we should continue with the enforcement,” he said.
But Dr Kenilorea said the funds to drive the enforcement will be determined by a decision from the people in the committee.
“We are also happy that our meetings with the prosecution and magistrate proved to be successful, these people are also ready for the enforcement.
“We hope that these processes will go smoothly through prosecution and magistrate, and hopefully if sentences are made then it will be good to aware people that people arrested pay heavy fines.
“These messages will inform our communities that people are arrested and charged,” he echoed during the interview.
Dr Kenilorea said such arrest will go as an awareness and education for our people and show seriousness to try and make our people live healthy and avoid smoking in smoke-free settings.
“If authorities release the funds then we will carry on the work.”
He said the enforcement should cover the whole country, but working within limited resources, the task force plans to start in Honiara first then move on to other provinces next year in regards to enforcing the law.