27 November 2015

East Timor tackles cigarette smoking with a new law to control tobacco

ETLJB 27/11/2015 The Government of East Timor has approved a new law aimed at tackling the social problem of tobacco consumption in the country.

The new law will be Decree-Law on the Tobacco Control Regime.

The draft law has been previously considered by the Government at the meeting of the Council of Ministers on 21 September 2015. It will define the regime for the prevention and control of smoking in the country.

This diploma is in compliance with the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, ratified in 2004 by the National Parliament.

According to a press release from the Government, "tobacco consumption in Timor-Leste remains very high, with significant negative impact on citizens’ health."

The Government notes that "approximately 70% of non-communicable diseases have as their main risk factor the consumption of tobacco."

On 4 June 2014, BBC News Magazine reported that "East Timor has one of the highest smoking rates in the world, with nearly two-thirds of its men hooked on the habit."

According to figures from the Journal of the American Medical Association, 33% of East Timor's population smoke every day. The figure for men stands at 61% - the highest in the world.

"Young people are smoking more and more each year, especially young boys," says Dr Jorge Luna, The World Health Organisation's local representative. "It is a very serious problem."

When he was Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao repeated what is tantamount to the tobacco industry's line: "The law, banning this, banning that, will not be so effective. It needs education [and] it will take time but I believe that the more people are aware of the diseases that it can cause, the more they are able to stop by themselves."

Tobacco advertising is still prominent in public spaces in East Timor. Most cigarettes are imported from Indonesia, which also has a very high smoking rate in the population.

See also Tobacco control in Timor-Leste: weak

East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin Legal news from East Timor in English
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