EXPECT a hike in the price of cigarettes if local authorities support moves to increase taxation on cigarettes in Pacific Islands, where a high percentage of deaths are related to diseases caused by non communicable diseases (NCDs).
The proposed increase in tax, which is supported by the World Health Organization, is aimed at discouraging smoking, and using the additional tax revenue on public health systems.One in every three adults in Fiji is at risk of premature death from heart disease, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases caused by NCDs.
And WHO director for the prevention of NCD Douglas Bettcher said increasing taxation on cigarettes in Pacific Islands could reduce deaths from NCDs.
"This is really important for the Pacific because there is a crisis in NCDs — heart diseases, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases which are caused by smoking, tobacco use, obesity, lack of physical activity and harmful use of alcohol," Dr Bettcher said.
"NCDs are the biggest killers in the world today, they've taken over from communicable diseases.
"Of the 63 per cent of all deaths in the world due to NCDs, over 80 per cent of those deaths are in developing countries like the Pacific Islands and of these, 36 million deaths from NCDs every year, about 14 million of those are premature, meaning people dying under the age of 70."
Dr Bettcher said when viewed in the context of global trends, the statistics in the Pacific were alarming.
"The world average is 20 per cent and many high income countries are achieving 10 per cent. In the Pacific, the crisis has reached epidemic proportions.
"In countries like the Marshall Islands, the risk is 60 per cent and in Fiji, the rate is 30 per cent. This means that three in every 10 adults have a very high risk of prematurely dying from a NCD."
Dr Bettcher was speaking at a conference held at the Tanoa International Hotel which began on Monday.