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Tobacco sales take a hit in Tonga

Tobacco sales have been hit by new import duties in Tonga, making many lower income smokers give up or cut back on consumption.

That's been the impact of new custom duties on imports of tobacco and other products stirring up the Pacific's non-communicable disease crisis.

PRN rpeorts a partnership between the Tongan Government and the World Bank aimed at fighting the food, alchohol and tobacco wars at the import level got its first regional update to Pacific heads of health in Nadi last week.

The Pacific Community's deputy director of public health, Sunia Soakai says the multi-sectoral partnership is aimed at giving Tongans more incentives to choose lower-duty healthy foods.

"Tonga has gone ahead and tried to introduce instruments to address some of the factors that people have been affected by: fructose, unhealthy foods, alcohol, sweet beverages."

However, Tonga Ministry of Health CEO Dr Siale Akau'ola warns retailers have been slow to drop prices on healthy foods and more public awareness is needed as the campaign gains momentum.

"There needs to be a monitoring by relevant authorities of government, to ensure the retailers actually do reduce the prices," he says.

"There's a lot of work to be done in that area. This has identified some opportunities for us to be more efficient and effective in how we apply this initiative."   LoopTonga
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