General

World No Tobacco Day 2018: New set of pictorial health warnings launched

A new set of pictorial health warnings that will replace the existing set which dates back to 2009 were launched yesterday by the Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Dr Anwar Husnoo, at the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation among a series of activities in the context of the World No Tobacco Day 2018. The aim is to sensitise the population on the harmful effects of cigarette smoking.

World No Tobacco Day is observed every year on the 31st of May. The theme chosen this year by the World Health Organisation is Tobacco and Heart Disease and set to, firstly, increase awareness on the link between tobacco and heart and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including stroke, which combined are the world's leading causes of death, and, secondly, initiate feasible actions and measures that key audiences, including governments and the public, can take to reduce the risks to heart health posed by tobacco.

In his address, Dr Husnoo, expressed concern regarding the high prevalence rate of smokers among the younger age-groups with over 44.7% of men aged between 18 to 24 years reporting smoking. On this score, he reiterated his full commitment that his ministry will leave no stone unturned in the fight against the scourge of the tobacco epidemic to protect the population. He called for the collaboration of one and all especially youth and the various stakeholders to pave the way for a more concerted, comprehensive and sustained approach towards the tobacco problem.

The challenge for all of us, he emphasised is to ensure that the generations to come live in a tobacco-free world. Regarding the situation in Mauritius, he recalled that approximately 1000 deaths occur annually due to tobacco use. However, he stated that the National Non-Communicable Disease Survey carried out in 2015 has revealed that the prevalence of smoking in Mauritius has decreased from 21.7% in 2009 to 19.3% in 2015. He further highlighted that according to statistics submitted by the Mauritius Revenue Authority, the importation of cigarettes has also decreased from 1,306,406,000 sticks in 2009 to 992 289 000 sticks in 2017.

Among the other measures adopted in the fight against Tobacco: amendments in the existing Public Health (Restrictions on Tobacco Products) Regulations 2008 in order to include inter alia electronic cigarettes, online sale of tobacco products, cross-border advertising, brand-stretching among others and to also strengthen enforcement operations on the field. Moreover, the Ministry of Health is also planning to accede to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products which will further enhance the fight against illicit trade of tobacco products in the country.

As far as public sensitisation is concerned, the ministry is also planning to launch a mass media campaign in the near future to target the population at large on the ill-effects of cigarette smoking. This measure includes TV and radio spots, billboards, SMS Alerts among others.

World No Tobacco Day was initiated in 1987. Since then, the 31st May of each year is observed as World No Tobacco Day which provides an opportunity to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and to advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption around the world.

Source: Government of Mauritius