CONCERNS have been raised regarding illicit tobacco trade in Fiji.
According to the Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma, smuggling of illicit cigarettes was a global issue.
Dr Sharma, who just returned from an international meeting on the Framework on Convention on Tobacco in South Korea last week, said smuggling of illicit cigarettes was taking place in Fiji but was difficult to monitor because of the vast nautical miles the country covered.
He said the ministry was working closely with the Fiji Navy, police and enforcement teams to monitor the illicit trade.
Dr Sharma said in his meeting in South Korea, issues such as reducing the contents used to make cigarettes such as tar and nicotine and providing alternative sources to tobacco farmers to earn a livelihood were highlighted.
Responding to the issue of illicit tobacco trade in Fiji, the British American Tobacco Fiji Limited said illicit trade was not a major issue for Fiji.
BAT corporate and regulatory affairs manager Rajeshwar Singh said illicit trade of tobacco was not an immediate concern for them but if the matter remained unchecked it could become an issue. Dr Sharma also revealed that from next year, pubs and nightclubs in the country would become smoke free.
"Major diseases like lung cancer, hypertension, strokes, mouth diseases and heart diseases occur as a result of cigarette consumption," he said.
Dr Sharma said cigarette packets would soon have graphic warnings to highlight its impacts on people's health.