Dear Editor,

I applaud the government for the initiative to ban plastics and diapers. It is not easy to take such a bold stance on these issues; however, I am wondering if the same energy and voice can be channeled into the ban of cigarettes and alcohol.

37% of Vanuatu’s 272,459 (Vanuatu mini census, 2016) population smoke (WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2017; country profile-Vanuatu) while 39% (Kessaram et al, Alcohol use in the Pacific region) consume alcohol. 52% of males and 60% of females 15-59 years die every year because of NCD (Carter et al, Causes of death in Vanuatu, 2016) and overall 70% plus mortality is from NCD alone.

And guess what, out of the top 4 major risk factors for NCD, we have embraced two and integrated them into society: smoking and alcohol; the other two being healthy diet and exercise.

Cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks, stroke, chronic obstructive airway diseases, are few of the many sufferings inflicted by cigarette. Globally, someone dies every 10 seconds as a result of cigarette smoking! There is absolutely zero benefit from smoking, apart from maybe import duty (compared to diapers). It’s killing us, but sadly, it has become norm.

Most NCD and Liver cirrhosis from alcohol is a huge problem. Its implication in breast cancer, fetal alcohol syndrome, and others are huge. Road traffic accidents, death, broken homes, poverty, are few of the social issues commonplace to alcohol consumption.

We have toothless, if any, policies, acts, and regulations that even leaders and politicians who made them, make mockery of by the leniency with which the law treats them; while our hospitals and mortuaries are filling up everyday.

While we embark on preserving the environment through the ban on plastics and diapers, that indirectly benefits us, why not ban the very poison that had been, is, and will continue to kill the citizens of this beloved nation, if we do not act now!

Liu

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