Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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The head of the Department of Non-Communicable Disease Helder Juvinal said the tobacco control law had yet to be properly implemented as the Health Ministry was still in the process of raising awareness to communities across the country.

Tobacco control law had yet to be properly implemented as the Health Ministry was still in the process of raising awareness to communities across the country.

Former President Taur Matan Ruak approved the law decree last year and gave the Ministry of Health six months to raise awareness to communities before implementation.

He said they had raised awareness to communities in Dili in regards to the law and the fines that will apply, including the establishment of smoke free zones in all health facilities.

“We should raise awareness first because this law mentions many things about the sanctions, so it is important for communities to know the information first,” he said at Hotel Timor in Dili.

He said the initial awareness campaign was focusing on health personnel as they play an important role in influencing the wider community to stop smoking.

He said the ministry also planned to run awareness campaigns this year in Maliana administrative post and Oecusse as it depended on operational budget.

He said discussions had also been held with the ministries of Finance, Commerce and Industry, Environment and Interior to look into cigarette prices and import tax, including controls on illegal imports in border areas.

Under the law, businesses that sell cigarettes to children under 17 years old and people who smoke in public places, including public transport will be subject to fines of $50 to $20,000.

Larger fines will apply to businesses found to be disobeying the law rather than individuals.

Health Ministry research in 2014 into the risks of non-infectious disease showed that 71% of men and 29% of women (between the age of 15 and 60) were actively smoking cigarettes.

Meanwhile, data from the 2013 Global Youth survey on tobacco showed that 42.4% of children (aged between 13 and 15) were actively smoking cigarettes and 61.9% were occasionally smoking.

Student Vasco Soares said that as a young person he called on the government to create an effective and integrated mechanism to implement the law in order to protect children from chronic diseases caused by smoking.

He also urged the Ministry of Health to continue raising awareness to the public, particularly young people, about the health dangers of smoking.

“Because most young people are smoking every day,” he said.

He said it was a very strong law because fines would apply to those who failed to comply.

He also hoped the law would reduce smoking-related deaths and chronic disease.

He said teachers and parents also had a responsibility to prevent children from smoking.

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