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Fiji to be Smoke Free in 2018

It seems like every country in the world is now committed to having smoke-free cities. Suva City in Fiji, for one, is no exception: it actually holds the distinction of being the first city in the South Pacific to be declared a smoke-free city last year. Its residents could not have been happier for it.

Chandu Umaria, the Special Administrator for the Suva City Council, said in a press conference, "As part of this initiative, we are declaring all the council properties including Terry Walk, Ratu Sukuna Park, the Ivi Triangle and the Suva Market and the Handicraft Centre, the Suva Bus station and taxi stand, Olympic pool and Suva City Library all smoke-free."

However, since there is the presence of “smokers” in the area, the council also recognized the need for designating special areas like booths for smokers who are still trying to get rid themselves of the habit. In effect, the city is now closer to attaining a completely smoke-free status in 2018.

This development comes in light of the recent drive of the local Ministry of Health to work closely with multiple town councils in the country to promote an entirely smoke-free country. So far, the ministry has done so by increasing the frequency of no-smoking signs in municipalities that were declared smoke-free. The other town that had also recently attained smoke-free status was Nadi. 
These actions were all made possible thanks to the Tobacco Control Legislation Amendment Act of 2010, which stated that smoking should be banned in all public places including hospitals, airports, eating houses, amusement places, theatres, sports stands, internet cafes,  and transportation terminals, to name a few among the many places mentioned.
Also in effect under this act were public workplaces, entrance ways, foyers, classrooms, lecture theatres, municipal markets, public toilets, and many more that are to be declared as smoke-free areas.

The next places that were being targeted for smoke-free status were Labasa and Savusavu. As early as last year, representatives from the World Health Organization were already meeting with local officials to plan feasible strategies that will make their collective goal a reality.

In one of the statements released by WHO representative Peni Veilave, he says this about one of their initial plans: "The first phase is to identify and declare spots as smoke-free zones. When things progress further, we are also looking into setting up booths for smokers in the two towns. We are working in accordance with the Tobacco Legislation 2010. Such an initiative is all part of efforts to ensure a healthier environment for all as smoking has been identified as the single leading cause of death globally."

Because of this, it is no wonder that ecigarettes became the “smoke” of choice for many avid tobacco enthusiasts who are still unable to get rid themselves of the habit. Although some people are against the idea of ecigarettes displacing traditional tobacco products—more notably, health minister Dr Neil Sharma who declared the product to be a "problem”—multiple evidences are now pointing to ecigarettes actually becoming the “healthier” alternative to smoking tobacco.

 This is in part because of the fact that ecigarettes do not emit toxic smoke caused by tar; nicotine is actually placed in liquid canisters, where smokers are then allowed to “inhale” them as they would with a real cigarette. The vapors an ecigarette displaces, however, can be customized to smell “sweeter” or more pleasant to anyone standing near anyone smoking an ecigarette. With an innovative product like that, there is no question why ecigarettes are rapidly gaining popularity in Fiji. 

With events like last year’s regional tobacco convention, Fiji is now fully close to becoming the first smoke-free country in the world in the near-future.