Thursday 29 January 2015 | Published in Regional
The new packets feature graphic imagery in combination with warning statements in Solomon Islands pidgin, the locally spoken language.
They warn of issues such as lung cancer, blindness and the impact on unborn babies.
“These graphic health warnings will deter our younger generation to reduce smoking,” said Dr Geoff Kenilorea, from the Ministry of Health.
“Also, we hope people who want to start smoking will refrain from smoking.”
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 40 per cent of the Solomon Islands population are current tobacco smokers.
Some 24 per cent of young people, aged between 13-15, are current cigarette users.
The graphic health warnings were first proposed in 2007 but faced several parliamentary hurdles and legislation was not passed until 2010.
Dr Kenilorea told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat programme that the introduction of new packaging was further delayed because of “interference” from the tobacco industry.
“There was quite a battle in the Solomon Islands with tobacco industry interference and we eventually got regulations associated with the legislation through at the end of 2013.”
The new measures were introduced on January 1 and apply to all commercially manufactured tobacco products.
But they do not apply to loose tobacco, which is popular in the Solomon Islands and commonly found at markets.
“It’s another issue we’re having some difficulty with,” Dr Kenilorea said.
“We are trying to figure out how we can best address that by looking at some examples from other Pacific Islands like Tonga and elsewhere.
Similar graphic health warnings were introduced in Australia in 2006, New Zealand in 2008 and Canada in 2012.