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Over 200 Participates In World No Tobacco Day Walk/Run On Palau

The 19th annual World No Tobacco Day walk/run attracted 277 participants. Photo by Bernadette H. Carreon

The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Palau (CTFP) and partners including the Ministry of Health’s Prevention Unit held the 19th annual World No Tobacco Day 5K and 10K walk/run on Sunday (29 May). An enthusiastic 277 people showed up to walk, run or volunteer before the sun rose – ages 1 to 64 years old. Specially designed t-shirts were distributed to the first 230 to register and towels for others. Fresh oranges and water was given to all participants and over 35 raffle prizes were given away. Participants were also invited to pick up cigarette butts at Ernguul Central Park as a contest to see who could pick up the most in 5 minutes. Over 4,000 butts were collected by approximately 30 participants!

The theme of this WNTD 2016 is “getting ready for plain packaging”. Plain packaging is an evidence based measure that can save lives and protect public health by:

  • reducing the attractiveness of tobacco products;

  • restricting use of tobacco packaging as a form of tobacco advertising and promotion;

  • limiting misleading packaging and labeling; and

  • increasing the effectiveness of health warnings.

Tobacco companies have fought plain packaging with a massive misinformation campaign since as far back as 1993. Internal industry documents show a coordinated industry response designed to resist plain packaging for fear that it will reduce demand. Today, the industry makes baseless claims that plain packaging is not effective, will increase illicit trade, push prices down and hurt retailers.

Tobacco control is an essential part of sustainable development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for accelerated implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to which Palau is a Party. Tobacco use has negative implications for economic development as it diverts household expenditure from food, health-care and education. Palau’s 2014 HIES results show that household expenditure on tobacco increased 59.9% from 2006 to 2014. Tobacco use also results in substantial economic costs in terms of health expenditure and lost productivity.

Palau is currently working towards implementation of graphic health warnings (GHWs) which is a separate policy that may be implemented alongside plain packaging. Graphic health warnings discourage young people from using tobacco, are associated with increased attempts to quit and reaffirms to non-tobacco users that tobacco use is bad for health. Other Pacific Island nations that require graphic health warnings include Fiji, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Cook Islands and Kiribati.

The CTFP is thankful to the government of India for supporting this activity as it served well to raise awareness of an important and effective tobacco control strategy which will, in combination with other strategies, protect our youth from death and disease caused by tobacco use.

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