On Tuesday, Cabinet approved the drafting of an amendment to the Tobacco Products Control Act, which will see many new changes to the sale and use of tobacco products.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) say it will include further restrictions and prohibitions to tobacco products in line with international best practice, and the duty which arose under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (the Convention). According to MoH, the current laws which regulate tobacco products in Cook Islands do not effectively tackle all of the issues which apply to the Convention. As such, MoH say the Cook Islands has not fully implemented the steps expected of it as a party to the Convention.
“There are direct implications on the health of the Cook Islands community, and the cost of providing health services to people who suffer, or will suffer, from tobacco related diseases and health issues.”
Policy manager Valentino Wichman says the proposed reforms to the Tobacco Products Control Act 2007 and to the 2008 Regulations aim to achieve full compliance with the Convention in the Cook Islands.
Reforms will include a ban on the manufacture of tobacco products in Cook Islands.
Importers, distributors, retailers, sellers and wholesalers of tobacco products in Cook Islands will have to hold a current licence, and must comply with all licence conditions.
Retailers and sellers of tobacco products will be prevented from displaying such products for sale, and all tobacco products available for sale will have to be stored under the counter or out of sight. Finally, the smoking or use of tobacco products in all interior public places will be prohibited. Wichman says these amendments are about making sure that we have a healthy population going into the future, by mitigating the harmful effects of Tobacco products.
Minister of Health, Nandi Glassie says he is very pleased to have had unanimous support by Cabinet for this draft amendment.
“The Ministry of Health is very policy driven, to streamline health services in the Cook Islands and to make our activities clearer for the government and the general public.”