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Tobacco Bill requires permits, new age limit and bans promotion

Thursday 9 May 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Health, National

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Tobacco Bill requires  permits, new age limit and bans promotion
Secretary for Health Bob Williams. TMO/24040122

The proposed Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill 2024 would require businesses currently importing and selling tobacco to reapply for a permit.

Under the Bill to be tabled in Parliament this month, the Secretary for Health has the authority to issue tobacco licences if the application complies with the proposed legislation.

Secretary for Health Bob Williams says a legal licencing process is being proposed in the Bill and once enacted, those who want to sell tobacco will have to apply for a permit including permits for import and distribution.

The Bill also proposes an increase in the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products and smoking to 21 and over.

“The secretary has the authority to issue the licence if the application complies with any applicable regulations. The licence is valid for a period of 12 months.”

Williams says TMO will meet to discuss the fee for the licence.

“If you are in breach, as an individual, there is a fine of $1000 or one month imprisonment. In any other case, if it is a business, up to $10,000 fine. But every other day, if you continue not to comply, it will be $1000 per day,” he told the audience at the public consultation meeting at Sinai Hall, Avarua, last week.

“So, you need a licence to import, distribute, and sell.”

The Bill also proposes a ban on promoting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, on the internet, such as social media pages like Facebook.

“You are not allowed to post it on Facebook or promote it. There is a fine as well, an individual, up to $10,000 fine.”

It also prohibits the display of tobacco products on the shop counters.

“You are not allowed to display anything related to tobacco products. The responsibilities are placed on the owner or on the licence holder, you are not allowed to display anything to do with promoting tobacco, or imitation of tobacco.”

Williams reiterated that advertising tobacco products is prohibited, and a fine would be imposed on both the shop owner and the licence holder for violations.

He said signages such as smoking kills must be displayed as it creates awareness.

Williams also highlighted the Tobacco Cessation Programme to help smokers reduce and eventually quit the habit.

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