Lack of progress ’concerning’ for a smoke-free NZ

Photo: File.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) officials have admitted they are concerned at the lack of progress towards a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025, despite the National government agreeing to the goal almost seven years ago.

Recent New Zealand Health Survey figures revealed by the Ministry of Health show that smoking has only declined by 2.5 per cent since 2011/12, with no significant change in smoking rates since the last figures were published in 2016.

The society, who have been campaigning to eliminate the death and harm caused by tobacco since 1983, are equally concerned that nearly two in five Maori women are still smoking.

ASH Programme Manager, Boyd Broughton, said: "Despite increased taxes, removing tobacco displays and mandating plain packs, we are still not making enough progress.

"In 2010 the Maori affairs select committee published a report to Parliament that said 'we strongly believe that innovations in tobacco control should place financial, ethical, and legal pressure primarily on the tobacco industry'."

ASH are now urging the new Health Minister to pick up the challenge and recognise that Smokefree 2025 needs to tackle the industry - especially for Maori.

"Maori told the government that the tobacco industry has got away with exploiting and killing people for too long," added Boyd.

"Holding them to account, and stripping them of their power to addict people to smoking is vital if the government is serious about Smokefree 2025."

"At the current rate of decline it will take until 2030 to get smoking rates under five per cent. For Maori, it will take until 2050.

"That is another generation of smokers, another generation of cancer, heart disease and avoidable deaths for Maori. The tobacco industry has taken enough lives already.

"The new government has a made it clear that they are not afraid to challenge a harmful industry - and tobacco should at the top of this list."

"We can regain progress towards Smokefree 2025. The goal is totally achievable by a bold government. Whilst it is individuals who smoke, it is a tobacco industry that got them hooked.

"It's time to take action against their deadly products and the harm they are causing to New Zealanders."

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