The Fijian Government is taking a multi – sectoral approach to curb the increasing illicit trade of tobacco and emerging tobacco products such as shisha tobacco, e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco.

Speaking at the Fiji Multi Sectoral Workshop on Strengthening Tobacco Control Enforcement at the Novotel Hotel in Nadi this morning, Minister for Health and Medical Services Hon. Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete says it is critical for Government to take this approach and ensure these products are imported within the requirements of the law.

“Fiji has experienced an increase in illicit trade from sales of single cigarette rolls,” Minister Waqainabete said.

“We’ve seen emerging tobacco products such as shisha tobacco and other products such as e-cigarettes landed in our shores, chewing tobacco has entered Fiji through our Ports of Entry and Courier agencies, and we have seen an increased number of counterfeit and other tobacco which does not meet the requirements of the Fijian law.”

The Fijian Government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services this year ratified the “Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products”.

This Protocol will enable the ministry in promoting cross – sectoral information sharing and enforcement against illicit tobacco trade.

The workshop, hosted by the Ministry and facilitated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) aims to strengthen tobacco control by addressing illicit trade of tobacco products at boarder control and within; increase visibility around the areas of enforcements and prosecutions and promote awareness on the effects of tobacco use, particularly as a barrier to global and national development.

“However, the agenda before you in the next few days are real and are pertinent issues here at home, and I encourage you all to have a frank and fearless discussions on those issues and come up with how best we can work together to support national approaches that are innovative and not of the past,” Minister Waqainabete said.

The participation from different organisations at the workshop he says was critical in strengthening Fiji’s local capacities in addressing this new public health risks and the recognition of the importance of the multi-sectoral approach towards addressing this.