MoH calls on smokers to quit and reduce tobacco use: World No Tobacco Day

MoH calls on smokers to quit and reduce tobacco use: World No Tobacco Day

Minister of Health, Odete Maria Freitas Belo (Photo Tatoli/Francisco Sony)

DILI, 30 may 2023 (TATOLI) – Minister of Health (MoH), Odete Belo calls on the Timorese smokers to quit and reduce tobacco use. 

The appeal was made on the occasion of the celebration of World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) with the theme, “We need food, not tobacco!”

“Quitting smoking and reducing tobacco use will prevent the effect on children and pregnant mothers in every family,” Minister Belo said at the Guido Valadares National Hospital, in Dili, today.

Belo said that smoking is the single biggest avoidable risk factor for cancer in the world, including Timor-Leste: “Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of cancer and cancer deaths.” 

Reduction in the use of tobacco would help to lower the risk for a number of types of cancer – cancers of the lung, larynx, oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, pancreas, bladder, stomach, colon and rectum, liver, cervix, kidney, and acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

“If we quit smoking, we can help the government reduce public expenditure on sending Timorese citizens for treatment abroad. Let’s prevent cancer by quitting tobacco use,” she said.

The Ministry of Health has also collaborated with WHO to establish a number of clinics (cessation centers) that offer services to help smokers quit smoking. 

“Health Ministry also had carried out health promotion which is necessary to reduce the growing burden of chronic diseases due to tobacco and particularly smoking,” Minister Belo added. 

To reduce the use of tobacco, WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control endorses the strategy of making tobacco products less affordable through increased taxation. In Timor-Leste, which has one of the world’s highest smoking rates, the excise tax on tobacco was increased by 163% in January 2022 from $19/kg to $50/kg. In January 2023, the tax was hiked further to $100/kg. This considerably impacted cigarette prices. 

According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), Timor-Leste 2019, with nearly 70% of adult males smoking cigarettes and 27% of adult females using some form of smokeless tobacco, Timor-Leste is one of the countries with the highest tobacco use rates in the world. The prevalence of tobacco is also high among adolescents in the country. 

Every year, World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes exemplary work on tobacco control through the World No Tobacco Day Awards. 

On may 28, WHO awarded the World No Tobacco Day Awards to Minister Belo in recognition of her exemplary work on tobacco control in the country. 

Related News:https://en.tatoli.tl/2023/05/29/world-tobacco-day-timor-lestes-efforts-towards-a-tobacco-free-nation-are-commendable/17/


Journalist: Filomeno Martins 

Editor: Nelia Borges


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