Saturday, June 25, 2016

Smoking claiming 4000 lives annually in Papua New Guinea

Over 4000 Papua New Guineans die annually from tobacco-related diseases, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Port Moresby-based WHO country representative Dr Pieter Van Maaren said this when speaking at a school yesterday to mark World No Tobacco Day celebrations.

“Every year in PNG studies have shown that more than 4600 of its people are killed by tobacco-caused disease, while more than 1,091,000 children and more than 1,658,000) adults continue to use tobacco each day,” he said.

The country has the highest tobacco consumption rate in the western Pacific region with 44 per cent of the population smoking, which is a statistic that Papua New Guineans should not be proud of. 

He encouraged warned students throughout the country that smoking at an early age is unhealthy and will have an effect on their health in the future.

“We know that cigarette smoking has a strong appeal among young people and school aged children. And social pressure to smoke is strong to many young minds these days. For many smokers, the thrill of smoking by buying cigarettes under age and smoking them at school seems to be part of the appeal of cigarettes.”

The country’s increasing youth population and aggressive marketing strategies employed by tobacco companies will lead to a rise in tobacco consumption, unless Papua New Guineans took action to address it.