Authors: Judith McCool et al.
Tobacco use is the biggest single preventable cause of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Western Pacific region. Currently, 14 Pacific Island countries have ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and, in having done so, are committed to implementing tobacco control measures aligned with the FCTC. Progressing strong and effective tobacco control legislation is essential to achieving long term gains in public health in small island countries. However, survey evidence suggests that pervasive tobacco industry interference serves to undermine tobacco control and public policy in several Pacific countries. An initiative was developed to provide dedicated, in-country technical support for developing legislation and policy to support implementation of Article 5.3 of the FCTC in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. This paper examines the factors that have assisted the two Pacific countries to make progress in implementing Article 5.3 and what this might mean for supporting progress in other Pacific settings. A document analysis was undertaken to identify the process and outcome of the intervention. Two significant outputs from the project including having identified and documented specific examples of TII and the development of draft legislation for Article 5.3 and other key resources for public servants both within and outside the health sector. Key determinants of progress included a motivated and engaged Ministry of Health, active civil society group or champion and access to media to prepare tobacco industry related material to stimulate public and policy sector debate.