Pacific Island workshop focuses on tobacco and regional trade agreements

Thursday 13 April, 2023

Tobacco use is one of the world’s leading causes of death, with a third of the global smoking population living in the Western Pacific region.

Countries within the region are at different stages of implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which is a treaty developed to respond to the global tobacco epidemic.

With our in-country partners, the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer has, over the past three years, delivered a three-part series of virtual workshops, empowering professionals from across health and government in Pacific Island countries to implement the WHO FCTC.

The first two workshops, which took place in March 2020 and October 2021, focused on implementation of Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC in the Pacific region, and the key challenges in legal enforcements of smoke-free environments.

The third and final workshop, which the McCabe Centre team hosted in March 2023, looked more closely at the implementation of tobacco control measure in the context of international and regional trade agreements.

This workshop specifically focused on helping 11 participants to gain insights into the role of trade agreements in addressing tobacco control and facilitating the sharing of experiences and lessons of countries’ government officials.

Pacific Island workshop

Participants included officials from Ministry of Health, Ministry of Trade, Attorney-General’s Chambers, Pacific ILTC alumni and Pacific CSOs who work in tobacco control.

J Risong Tarkong, Legislator in the Melekeok Legislature in Palau, Northern Pacific, participated in the workshop and said it was particularly helpful in a regional context.

“I found it very empowering in my ability to work in legislation more effectively,” Risong said.

“I believe every legislature should go through this workshop including even our own government agencies such as Ministry of Justice on implementation and enforcement.

“It really gives perspectives and insight on how the Pacific has been tackling and addressing this area on tobacco.”

Sapai Moana Matariki, from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, said the workshop was also an opportunity to share local examples of policy and trade, and how they relate to tobacco control and NCDs.

“The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is grateful to the McCabe Centre for the invitation to present on protecting policy space for tobacco control measures in Pacific Trade Agreements, and in particular within the context of the Pacific Islands Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA),” Moana said.

The McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer regularly delivers online and in-person training programs for people working in law as well as civil society, as well as Mastercourses in collaboration with our founding partner, the Union for International Cancer Control.

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