Vote could be two years away to determine if island goes smoke-free..

September 22, 2008 - As reported back in October 17, 2007, the South Pacific island of Niue believes it can set an example by becoming the first country in the world to go smoke-free.

Sitaleki Finau, Niue's director of health, is backing a bill to prohibit smoking and the sale of tobacco in public areas and private homes. The bill has been presented to parliament, but the government has not yet signed up to it. Dr Finau said he expected a ban to face stiff opposition from the tobacco industry and other commercial interests. But he urged MPs to be bold and vote for it.

Dr Finau said the government would have to consider whether a ban infringed smokers' rights. "There has been mixed reaction," he said. "It's one of those difficult political issues, because there are commercial interests against it, and the government has to look at it in relation to tax. A tobacco-free country sounds pretty straightforward and simple, but there are some complex issues involved."

NO date has been set for a vote, which could be two years away.

Reference: World's smallest state aims to become the first smoke-free paradise island by Kathy Marks, Asia-Pacific Correspondent - The Independent, 7/9/2008.

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