Smokefree experts from Health Coalition Aotearoa (HCA) are heartened the Government has listened to the evidence and the calls of hundreds of health, academic and community organisations and individuals, to roll out the Smokefree Action Plan at parliament today.
The new plan comes just three weeks after Health Coalition Aotearoa sent a giant, open letter to the Minister highlighting the strong health sector and community support.
Health Coalition Aotearoa Smokefree Expert Advisory Group (SEAG) Chair Sally Liggins said the Government’s response showed courage and is an unprecedented win for the health of New Zealanders.
Focus areas identified in the plan will see laws passed to only allow very low nicotine levels in cigarettes in a bid to make them non-addictive, significantly reducing the number of cigarette retailers by only allowing sales through authorised retailers and increasing evidence-based stop smoking services.
“Once these measures are implemented, cigarettes will no longer be addictive and will reduce the number of young people who start smoking,” Liggins said.
SEAG member Andrew Waa says the changes will make a huge contribution towards realising the Smokefree 2025 goal to reduce smoking rates to five per cent of the population.
“The complementary solutions the Government is adopting will particularly benefit Māori, Pacific and lower socio-economic communities who currently carry an inequitable burden of harm from this killer product.
“We are pleased the government has listened to these communities and will establish a Smokefree Aotearoa Taskforce comprising of Māori leaders. This reflects recommendations made in the 2010 Māori Affairs Select Committee report on tobacco.
Liggins says if the Smokefree 2025 goal is to be realised the Government must act quickly.
“These bold measures put us on track and bring enormous health, economic and social benefits to all New Zealanders,” Liggins said.
“It will make it easier for people to quit smoking through the improved services and the commitment to anti-smoking advertisements is a welcome boost.
“The next step is supporting these measures to be rolled out in our communities and passing law through parliament to support the Action Plan. We’ll keep pushing for bold, evidence-backed measures all the way to Smokefree 2025.”