Cook Islands – Tobacco Control Action Plan adopted

In line with the recommendations resulting from the needs assessment exercise conducted jointly by the Government of Cook Islands and the Convention Secretariat in early 2012, Cook Islands has adopted a Tobacco Control Action Plan for the period 2012 to 2016. The Action Plan was launched in December 2012 by Nandi Glassie, Minister of Health, and aims to ensure that Cook Islands fulfils its obligations under the WHO FCTC.

The Action Plan was developed by the Ministry of Health in consultation with other Government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and civil society. It identifies seven objectives and initiatives:

  • improving infrastructure and setting up a multisectoral coordination mechanism;
  • increasing awareness among and empowering the community to discourage tobacco use and encourage protection from exposure to tobacco use;
  • promoting cessation services;
  • reducing the accessibility of tobacco products by increasing the levy on imported tobacco and through supply reduction measures;
  • further reducing tobacco promotion and regulating tobacco product contents and disclosures;
  • reducing exposure to second-hand smoke ;
  • strengthening tobacco monitoring, evaluation and surveillance programmes.

The Action Plan also identifies the responsible implementation agencies and timelines. The country’s multisectoral coordination mechanism will set a national smoking prevalence reduction target for the Cook Islands once the 2010 national census and 2010 STEPS data become available.

In a major achievement following the joint needs assessment mission, the Action Plan stipulates that the Government will double the tobacco import levy between August 2012 and August 2015, with a 33% increase each year. The first increase in 2012 raised the price of the average pack of cigarettes by approximately 2.10 New Zealand Dollars. To ensure that the real value of the levy is maintained against inflation, there will be a 2% increase each year from 2016.

During the needs assessment mission, the Convention Secretariat had the opportunity to brief the Cabinet on the major recommendations arising from the mission for implementation of the Convention. The Secretariat also provided technical input during the development of the National Action Plan together with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, WHO, the Australian Department of Health and Ageing, and two nongovernmental organizations from Australia.

More information is available from Maina Tairi (national tobacco control focal point) at: m.tairi@health.gov.ck

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