Smoking kills - Seychelles enforces regulation for health warnings on tobacco products
A warning label provided by the Seychelles Ministry of Health
(Seychelles News Agency) - The image of a baby engulfed in the smoke of a cigarette user might just put some people off smoking in the Seychelles when they are about to buy a packet of cigarettes.
The measures took effect on Saturday May 31, and put into practice the Tobacco Control Act which states that packets of cigarettes and other tobacco products must include a health warning that covers at least 50 percent of each of the two main sides of the packaging.
The regulation contains specific content and format of these health messages, including which images should be used, the wording of the messages, and other related issues.
In an article published in daily newspaper Seychelles Nation on Thursday the vice-chairperson of the National Tobacco Control Board, Jules Hoareau said: “With this we are aiming to reduce the consumption of tobacco as tobacco is one of the main factors of cardiovascular diseases and cancer among the nation.”
For her part, the programme manager in the Unit for the Prevention and Control of Cardiovascular Diseases at the Seychelles Hospital, Bharathi Viswanathan said: “All tobacco products, which include cigarettes, shisha and others, have to have the printed warnings on 50% of the packing.”
Importers or merchants will be fined if they do not abide by the regulations.
The regulation came into force on ‘World No Tobacco Day’ with “Raise taxes on tobacco” as theme chosen by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In Seychelles, taxes contribute to approximately 65 percent of the retail price of cigarettes
The figure is higher in several countries responding to the WHO’s call to increase the cost of cigarettes in order to reduce tobacco consumption in populations.
This year’s Tobacco day theme is consistent with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
175 countries including Seychelles have ratified the convention which requests countries to continuously inform the public about the health hazards of smoking and the need to raise taxes on cigarettes.
Smokers in Seychelles start young
According to a report on Seychelles healthcare published by the WHO this year, the island nation’s prevalence for smoking decreased between 1989 and 2004 among adults, with a much higher prevalence in men than women), but prevalence remains fairly high among youths, with only a small gender difference.
“Among adults, both smoking prevalence (number of smokers) and consumption (number of cigarettes smoked) in Seychelles have been on the decrease. Aggregate cigarette consumption decreased by 26% between 1993 and 2000. Although Seychelles has some of the most stringent tobacco laws (Tobacco Products Control Act 2009) in the world, smoking rates remain moderately high with 21% of men consuming cigarettes, slightly lower than Namibia’s 36% and South Africa 25 percent.
Seychelles has similar prevalence rates to other developing countries, with approximately 21 percent of men and 3 percent of women who smoke…..The latest Global School-Based Student Health Survey (2007) show that 23 percent boys and 11 percent girls had smoked in the month preceding the survey. Among the smokers, almost half had started smoking at the age of 11.,” says the report, entitled Social Determinants of Non-Communicable Diseases and Other Public Health Issues in the Seychelles: Evidence and Implications.
Strict tobacco control measures
The Tobacco Control Act makes provision for a total ban on smoking in all enclosed public places and workplaces, on all public transport, as well as in all outdoor premises of all education and health institutions.
There is a total ban on all forms of direct and indirect tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion as well as the formation of a national tobacco control board to guide and monitor achievements and enforcement amongst others.
It is also illegal to sell tobacco products to people under the age of 18 in Seychelles, while tobacco should not be displayed where they can easily catch attention and be easily accessed.
Smoking is a big killer
It is estimated that the epidemic will kill more than 8 million people every year by 2030 unless there is swift action to reduce tobacco consumption.
Smoking is also responsible for a large number of diseases and deaths.
The main diseases related to smoking include cardiovascular disease, cancers (mainly lung cancer), other respiratory diseases and fetal/neonatal conditions.