29 Jun, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor
Report credit: Annabel Lyman, FCA Pacific Island Countries Coordinator
Every year, WHO recognizes individuals or organisations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control. There were 6 awardees in the Western Pacific region this year including the Cook Islands Ministry of Health. The Cook Islands ratified the FCTC in 2004, and was the first Pacific Island country to produce and work toward a national Tobacco Control Action Plan. Among other successes, areas where the country has made great strides in the past year include a tobacco tax increase and successful launch of a unique Blue Ribbon campaign.
Several countries participated in a project designed to encourage sharing of information by email. Participating countries chose a letter from W, N, T or D to display as part of their activities with a flag in the photo. The intention is to make a poster of tobacco control in the Pacific by “stitching” the photos together featuring the letters to spell out WNTD 2013.
A full report and pictures of activities in many of the countries in the region can be downloaded here: WNTD booklet – pacific
- Cook Islands – The ministry of health sponsored a poem and story competition as well as quizzes at Titi-kaveka College and Avarua school, with prizes for winning students. The MOH promoted tips on how to stop smoking and how to prevent youth from starting.
- Palau – a run was held promoting WNTD. The letter W was chosen to promote the event; as runners/walkers crossed the finish line, they received their W. Taped to the back was a raffle ticket.
- Federated States of Micronesia Kosrae – a policy makers’ advocacy meeting was held to discuss Article 13 of the FCTC, and a plan was developed to push for passage of a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
- Niue – Led by Miss Niue contestants, school children created slogans, cheers and dances. The Director of Health and Minister of Health joined in with an impromptu comedy piece, and the Minister committed to championing the passage of a Tobacco Control Bill.
- Papua New Guinea – primary school students developed a banner and posters, which were then used in a walk. This was followed by a series of drama performances and poem readings.
- Marshall Islands – national and local police teamed up with tobacco control coalition team members to remove all tobacco advertising and promotion signs and illegal point of sales displays and replace them with WNTD posters provided by WHO in Fiji. There was also a walkathon, followed by a ‘battle of the bands’ for the best song about health. The winning band will record their song and have it broadcast on the radio.
- Samoa – a bike ride around the island was the culmination of a week of campaigning and advocating for smoke free buildings.
- Tuvalu – a week of community awareness was undertaken in schools, workplaces, community halls and businesses. On WNTD itself, two government officials were part of a radio broadcast as Quit Smoking Champions.
- Solomon Islands – following a range of public awareness raisings activities in the lead up to WNTD, a public parade was held, with speeches by government officials, the WHO representative, and a youth representative. There was also a singing performance and live radio talk. Champion awards were presented to advocates of the SI tobacco free initiative, including government agencies, a church, taxi service and global youth leadership group.
- Vanuatu – soccer and volleyball tournaments were held for young people. There was also an official event with speakers from the ministry of health and WHO, which was broadcast on national radio.
- Tonga – The main hospital was launched as the first tobacco free hospital in Tonga. This was covered by both television and radio, and was complemented by billboard displays at the hospital and near the airport. A school was also launched as the first tobacco free school.
- Kiribati – as the first tobacco act was passed in April 2013, this formed the theme for Kiribati, ‘Support Tobacco Act’ (Kaota am boutoka nakon te Tua ibukin Kauarerekean Kabonganaan te Baake iaon Kiribati.) To raise awareness, activities included radio shows, press releases, awareness programs, a smoke free basketball tournament and public program with a drama show, health check and quiz.
- Fiji – promotion of new cessation assistance services was held at a health centre, along with news about new pictorial health warnings and tobacco free sites. A skit about the physical and social impacts of tobacco use was performed by a local youth group in collaboration with nursing school students.