Who allowed this in?

Concerns over smoke-like candies in shops, painting positive pictures on cigarettes

By Gary Hatigeva

If you think this is cigarette, it is not. This is the latest sensationalised marketing strategy targeting children. Candies imitating cigarettes now on shelves in shops.

PARENTS are concerned over the new set of candies currently being sold in many Chinese shops around Honiara.

While parents and schools are doing their best to discourage children from engaging in activities such as drinking and smoking, it is concerning that the new product will make the fight pointless as it paints a positive picture on smoking.

With this kind of marketing strategies, children will build a mindset that smoking is just like candy and that is a worry – when they choose to try the actual smokes.

Responsible authorities are however questioned as to why such products have been allowed to be imported in the first instance and be sold in shops.

Parents are calling on the rightful authorities to remove these products from shops as it is not helping at all.

“We struggle every now and then to teach our children not to smoke, and here you are, allowing a smoke like candy to be imported and sold on our shores.

“Get rid of them and tell those who export them to go sell all these rubbish somewhere else, not in our country.”

In addition, an unhappy parent in one of the local online forums expressed that he was surprise to see such a candy sold in the shops to our little ones.

“I am not against smokers but I can see this as an explicit good, harvesting the minds of innocent children.

“You don’t have to be a psychologist to realise the evil intentions of the manufacture of this product. By looking at this product, smoking is being introduced to our little ones as something good and safe, camouflaging its detrimental effects.”

He said while parents and schools try to educate children of the harmful effects of smoking, the candy is defeating this purpose.

“When I was a child, we could buy candy cigarettes in Australia, but they have been banned now for many years,” another member shared.

The product used to be a loved candy in the 60s and 70s, in many parts of the world, but has now been put a total ban as it now contravenes most the laws governing food and tobacco control, most of which are interrelated, and the Solomon Islands laws is no exception.

The product according to many is a dumped waste on Solomon shores as it has seemingly been banned from a lot of countries throughout the region and the world.

“These foreigners are using our vulnerability to bring in such products. How would you feel if a foreigner came to your yard and dumped a pile of garbage right in front of you? Would you just stand there and ignore what had just happened?”

According to health officials spoken to on this, the product should be banned as it is a form of promotion and advertisement to smoking, which is not allowed under our laws.

Officials explained that the smoke-like candy, or commonly referred to as a Cigarette Candy in many countries, can be referred to the Pure Food (Food Control) Regulations 2010, and the Solomon Islands tobacco act.

The Food Control Regulation is a supplement to the Solomon Islands Gazette that was adopted in 2010, and according to Part 5 Section 18 (1), pre-packaged food shall not be described or presented on any label or in any labelling in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character in any respect.

Subsection 5 of section 18 also ensures that necessary words or phrases are pointed out to avoid misleading or confusing consumers.

There are other related sections both in the regulation and the Pure Food Act 1996 that highlight the effects and seriousness of such matters and officials explained that any person who contravenes these laws and regulations are committing offences.

Part 5 highlights matters related to “Labelling, Advertising and Date Marking”, and this is also in consistence with other relevant sections in the Tobacco Act of Solomon Islands.

There are also concerns that though the product may not contain actual cigarette substances or materials, but its content, with high sugar contain, is just as harmful to the body.

The Customs and Excise being the country’s front line of defence and first point of contact to the imported products, is reminded to pull up their socks, and added that if they had properly done their job, the Cigarette Candy would not have made it to shelves in shops.

Those responsible are also called on to start making visits to shops and remove the highlighted products, at the same time push for it to be banned.

Following the revelation of this candy cigarette, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services through its responsible divisions will be holding a press conference with the local media to talk on the issue, whose officials thought the product should also be removed and banned.

“It may be a candy product but the nature or characteristics of its presentation is a pure decptive advertisement and promotiom of smoke brands, only that the manufacturers chose to use slight spelling tactics, but they still pronounce the exact names of actual branded cigarettes,” officials explained.

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