Stop the Smokefree Laws Repeal Toolkit

There are four simple steps you can take right now to fight the repeal.

We all want to see a Smokefree Aotearoa because that will free people from the harms and deaths caused by tobacco smoking.

That’s why we’re extremely disappointed the new coalition Government plans to repeal our world-
leading smokefree law (Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco)
Amendment Act).

Repealing this popular law is a backwards step for New Zealand and puts the tobacco industry’s
profits ahead of the health of all New Zealanders – especially our children’s.

Key messages:

  • The health sector is united in its call for the Government to retain our world-leading smokefree law, which will help us reach the Smokefree 2025 goal.
  • The Government must prioritise the health of all New Zealanders over the tobacco industry’s profits.
  • Tobacco is no ordinary commodity. It is the deadliest consumer product of all time and kills about 5000 people every year in New Zealand.
  • The repeal will disproportionately harm Māori communities as their smoking rates are higher (17per cent) – repealing the law would breach the Crown’s Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations.
  • The repeal will also disproportionately harm Pacific and low-income communities.
  • The law is designed to make tobacco less available in our communities and non-addictive while also creating smokefree generations so our children never face the harms smoking causes.

What can you do? 

There are four simple steps you can take right now to fight the repeal.
1. Sign and share the petition

Join over 50,000 people and sign Hāpai te Hauroa’s petition “Put people over profit – stop the repeal of the smokefree legislation”

The petition was handed to Parliament on 13 December, but it is still open for signatures.

 

2. Email politicians

Email your MP and/or Health Minister Dr Shane Reti and/or Associate Health Minister Casey Costello and/or Prime Minister Christopher Luxon asking them to stop the repeal (see resources below).

 

3.  Spread the word

Tell others in your community to do the same things:

  • Make it as easy as possible for them to sign the petition (e.g., carry an iPad around with you).
  • Share the messages above and this list of actions in your social media, WhatsApp groups, newsletters or emails.
4.  Donate

Help to resource this ongoing campaign by donating to our Give-a-Little page

 

Resources to help you

 

 

MP letter/email template

Letters to MPs have more power if they are written in your own words. Use this template as a starting point but remember to change the words to suit your voice and feelings. Send a letter/email under your individual name so they are flooded with responses (otherwise it’s easy for them to dismiss as one organisation).

If you have a personal story about the impact of tobacco on your whānau to share, then add this in too – stories are very powerful and encourage MPs to think about the effect tobacco has on people.

Subject: Stop the repeal of the Smokefree laws

Kia ora,
I am incredibly disappointed that your new Government plans to repeal our world leading Smokefree
legislation.
Tobacco is the deadliest consumer product of all time and still causes more than 5000 deaths every
year in New Zealand. I want to see a Smokefree Aotearoa and a future free from harms caused by
smoking.
Our new smokefree laws are world-leading, evidence-based, and have strong public support. More
than two thirds of New Zealanders recently polled want to keep this law. Claims the law will drive up
crime and a black market have no evidence and come straight from the tobacco industry’s talking
points.
I ask that you stop the repeal and implement the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products
(Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Act as planned.
Thanks,
Your Name

Send from your personal email address to:
Your local MP (contact details can be found here)
The Prime Minister (Christopher.Luxon@parliament.govt.nz)
The Health Minister (Shane.Reti@parliament.govt.nz)
The Associate Health Minister (Tobacco Control Delegation) (Casey.Costello@parliament.govt.nz)

FAQs

 

 

Won’t these new laws drive up crime and a black market?

There is no evidence these laws would drive up crime or illicit tobacco trade. This argument comes straight from the tobacco industry’s talking points and is wheeled out every time governments propose new regulations that will affect tobacco companies’ profits. 

The same argument was used when plain packaging was proposed, and the black market did not escalate. The best way to address tobacco related crime or illicit tobacco trade is by taking appropriate preventive and enforcement actions, and by reducing the demand and appeal of smoking. That is exactly what these laws would have done.  

Current evidence suggests that the black market for tobacco is very small in NZ and not increasing. If fewer people are addicted because the nicotine levels have been reduced, demand for tobacco will decrease, fewer people will be interested in either black market or legal tobacco, and retailers selling low nicotine tobacco products will be less likely to be targeted by criminals.

 

Isn’t it a personal choice to smoke, why is this the Government’s job?

Most people who smoke (80-90%) have tried to quit and failed; they wish they had never started smoking. Very few understood that casual smoking when they were young would lead to a lifetime of addiction. They have no free choice in managing nicotine addiction. Making tobacco less addictive increases their ability to free themselves from addiction. 

The Government has a responsibility to protect young people from tobacco products and reduce smoking rates in New Zealand. The Government also has a responsibility to achieve the Smokefree 2025 goal. New Zealand is a party to the global tobacco treaty, WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health. The Government is also responsible for meeting all its FCTC commitments.

We have more than 6000 outlets selling tobacco; that number is inconsistent with a goal of reducing smoking. Tobacco stores are concentrated in low-income neighbourhoods and communities, which means young people living there are at greater risk of starting to smoke; people who already smoke may smoke more and find it harder to quit. That’s why reducing the number of places selling tobacco is so important. 

The Government still says it is committed to Smokefree 2025, what could it do now to achieve this? 

The time for a ‘business as usual’ approach is over as 2025 approaches. Interventions that focus mainly on individuals, such as offering cessation support, are important but will not achieve Smokefree 2025 on their own. That’s why the new laws aim to reduce the availability and addictive nature of tobacco; these measures would make it easier for people to be smokefree. 

How does vaping fit into this?

The Government says vaping will be the primary tool used to reduce smoking rates, following a planned repeal of the Smokefree law.  This is concerning because vaping is addictive, and addiction imposes harm. Furthermore, vaping is not risk-free. 

Vaping can help some people transition away from addiction to cigarettes. Ideally, vapes are a temporary step as people move towards being nicotine free. However, many people become addicted to vaping or both cigarettes and vapes (dual users). Both these options may harm people’s health and welling.

Vaping is not universally accepted as a quit tool. Reclaiming and replenishing Māori to their original state of hauora requires recommendations from mainstream and government agencies to use approved cessation products to support whānau to quit smoking.

It is critical to understand that the use of cessation products not approved by Medsafe NZ, such as vape products, have known and an unknown cultural harm attached with potential long-term impacts on the wider whanau, particularly Rangatahi and whānau who have never used vape products.

Māori have the highest prevalence rate of addiction to tobacco and vape products than any other population group in New Zealand and therefore, use of any product where nicotine addiction is potentially a by-product, must consider tikanga and cultural risks as part of any programme, policy and legislative design. This is considered safe practice and within Māori tikanga guidelines. 

Vaping should only be used to support quitting when other methods that have a better safety profile, including advice from healthcare workers, toll-free quit lines, mobile and digital cessation services, and approved Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) have been unsuccessful. These proven quit strategies need to be promoted and well-resourced so that vaping addiction is minimised.

The promotion of vaping as a safer alternative to smoking has been accompanied by an aggressive industry campaign targeting young people who have never smoked. Vaping comes with known and unknown health risks, and it is vital children and young people cannot easily access vapes. 

Current regulations offer inadequate protection from vaping and need to be strengthened urgently.

Where to go for more information

Health Coalition Aotearoa Key facts – Smoking and the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Act (SERPA)’ https://www.healthcoalition.org.nz/resources/

Cancer Societyhttps://www.cancer.org.nz/cancer/reduce-your-risk-of-cancer/smokefree/

Smokefree.org.nzhttps://www.smokefree.org.nz/smokefree-environments/legislation

Manatū Hauorahttps://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/preventative-health-wellness/smokefree-2025

Public Health Communications Centre ‘The Smokefree legislation is evidence-based, removing it is not’ –  https://www.phcc.org.nz/briefing/smokefree-legislation-evidence-based-removing-it-not

 

This Toolkit was adapted from a resource developed by the Cancer Society of New Zealand. It will be reviewed and updated regularly.