Public health experts say we are falling short of our Smokefree 2025 goal and unless there is urgent action by Government, we won’t be Smokefree until 2065.
Tobacco control and health researchers from the University of Otago and Hāpai te Hauora launched a new action plan at Parliament this morning to guide New Zealand to reach its Smokefree 2025 goal.
The researchers outlined five key actions to get New Zealand closer to the goal: dramatically reduce the number of retail outlets that sell tobacco(from 6500 to 300), increase the tobacco tax by 20 per cent annually for three years, introduce a new minimum retail price, remove additives (like sugar and menthol) and reduce nicotine content, and introduce a policy to gradually increase the minimum purchase age over time, to create future ‘tobacco-free’ generations.
The original 2011 strategy, to achieve less than 5 per cent smoking prevalence for all ethnic groups, emerged from an inquiry led by the Māori Affairs Select Committee. The current estimates that Māori and Pasifika would not reach the 5 per cent target until after 2060 are partly what have prompted these strict new goals.
Media attention has tended to focus on reducing the number of tobacco retailers and on the increased tobacco tax. Zoe Hawk, general manager of Hāpai te Hauora told Duncan Garner on the AM show that if we do increase the tax on tobacco then we “need to ensure that e-cigarettes are more available” because we “can’t leave smokers high and dry as it is an addiction.”
At the launch, Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner announced that the Government will “try and give smokers safer alternatives to tobacco” by establish a pre-market approval system for smokeless tobacco and nicotine-delivery products, other than e-cigarettes (which were approved in March). This will mean products like chewing tobacco, Swedish snus and inhaled nicotine could become legal. Wagner was quoted in the Dominion Post saying the Government’s move would help those who “we can’t seem to get to quit”.
The new strategies to reach Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 were covered by local media:
Stuff.co.nz: Smokefree 2025: make it harder to get tobacco and it will be snuffed out, report says
Newshub: ‘Urgent action’ needed if smokefree NZ goal to be achieved
TVNZ: Call for tobacco tax to rise 20 per cent a year for three years