The Ministry of Health announced Wednesday that 81 percent of deaths in the Maldives are connected directly or indirectly to smoking.
In his speech to mark the World No Tobacco Day, Health Minister Abdulla Nazim Ibrahim noted that seven million people die around the world every year due to smoking. He stated that the Maldives imports 462 million cigarettes annually which wastes MVR 1.1 billion.
The minister urged against wasteful spending, highlighting the negative effects of smoking on individual health, families and progress. He went on to say that tobacco importation brings a huge amount of profit only to a few companies though the Maldives does not produce tobacco products.
“But it brings nothing but great harm to everyone else,” he declared, saying that Maldivians must become more aware of the dangers of smoking and contemplate more on how to control tobacco products.
Minister Nazim declared that the dangers and harm caused by smoking is not a right one owes to oneself nor a right they can exercise on the rest of the community.
“The truth to be recognised here is that one’s right is to protect oneself, their families and the country from the plague of tobacco,” he said, stressing that the issue is of equal importance to both individuals and the nation.
The minister also highlighted that treatment and professional assistance are now available nationwide for smokers that are looking to stop. Furthermore, he emphasised the importance of decreasing tobacco products’ availability and spoke in favour of the higher taxes that have been imposed on tobacco.
Minister Nazim added that the Maldives will soon introduce graphic health warnings on tobacco packets and containers. He further announced that the government plans to launch projects in the future to control products such as e-cigarettes, shisha and vaping.