By Gary Hatigeva
THE Solomon Islands public has been called on to stand behind the Government’s efforts in its enforcement of the Tobaccos Control Act 2010, putting a stop to activities in breach of the law.
In a press conference yesterday, Director of the Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) division within the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), Dr Geoffrey Kenilorea told local media that the Ministry responsible for the Act, is now working in collaboration with its stakeholders to crackdown on illegal tobacco related issues.
The enforcement also comes as part of a planned operation to curb the ongoing developments that are reportedly breaching laws regulating the misconduct of service providers, which include the public transportation and shop operations.
The recently revealed selling and promoting of the Smoke Candy that the ministry had declared illegal, as it endangered the vulnerability of children to fall into smoking tobacco at early ages, is but one of the major activities set as the targeted issues of focus for the enforcement operation.
Kenilorea told reporters that with its enforcement strategy in place, the ministry is now working closely with police, as one of their important partners to carry out the enforcement operation, with high anticipation to control tobacco products.
“We are currently working with police to ensure that they are aware of their full powers under the law.
“Plans are in place for police to scale up enforcement operations in Honiara and across the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kenilorea pointed out that the role of community will be crucial in the operations as a matter of protection for children, and that members of the public are also urged to refuse giving businesses to shops and individuals involved in activities that are highlighted as matters of concern.
“We can send a strong message to shop owners that the community does not support these products and activities,” Kenilorea said.
He noted that the community was already showing its power when it comes to tobacco, with more people standing up against those who illegally smoke in buses.
He then pointed to schools taking action, with some teachers banning the smoke candies amongst their students, is a good example of community and public support towards the enforcement programme.
These are the kinds of community actions that can really make a big difference,” said Kenilorea.
“We need to stand together against tobacco companies, and against any business promoting smoking, to protect our children.”
He noted that vendors selling single rolls or selling cigarettes to minors can also be targeted by the community, encouraging members of the public to notify the police if they see illegal activities.
The NCD Division Director further urged for people to stand up to shop owners and other individuals by not rendering support to their businesses while they are breaking the law.