Latest From The Niue Assembly – Tobacco Legislation
Tobacco legislation – After 12 years in the making, the legislation to control the use of tobacco and tobacco products has finally made it to the Assembly for its first reading.
In introducing the Bill, Minister Billy Talagi told the House that the legislation gives legal status to some practices already accepted by the community such as the banning of smoking in public places. He said that the primary aim is to discourage the younger generation from taking up the habit. One of the more controversial provisions of the Bill is to make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to smoke; in comparison the legal age for the consumption of alcohol is 18 years.
He said that the on-going public education programme of the Health Department appears to be working as there is now a noticeable reduction in the number of smokers on the island.
Most MPs who contributed to the debate spoke in favour of the legislation with the exception of Member Terry Coe who said that he didn’t support the Bill in its current form because he considered it to be complicated and it did not go far enough. He called for a complete ban on smoking.
There appears to be a general consensus amongst members that while increasing the cost for cigarettes may act as a deterrent for younger people it does little to help those with severe addiction.
Member O’love Jacobsen pointed to the incongruity of a government agency, the Government Bond Store, actively promoting the sale of cigarettes from its prime location at Fonuakula, while another government agency the Health Department is trying to encourage people to stop smoking.
Member Jack Willie Lipitoa himself a long-time smoker but now a reformed smoker related to the House his long battle with tobacco addiction and how his younger brother the late Dr Enetama Lipitoa, a former cabinet minister, encouraged him to stop.
The proposed legislation will now go to a Bills Committee hearing before it returns to the House for its final reading.
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