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Smokefree ban hailed as significant life saver

Smokefree ban hailed as significant life saver

The Public Health Association has hailed the start of smokefree bars and restaurants as one of the most significant life-saving initiatives in recent times.

The Smokefree Environments (Enhanced Protection) Amendment Bill comes into force at midnight tonight and the Public Health Association says the move will help lower the 4,500 avoidable deaths that occur each year in this country from tobacco-related diseases.

PHA director Dr Gay Keating says cigarette smoking is the single largest cause of preventable death and disease in New Zealand and exposure to second-hand smoke means non-smokers also suffer death and disease.

“Only about 25 percent of New Zealander’s smoke so I think most people will welcome the chance to socialise with friends in pubs and restaurants that aren’t thick with tobacco smoke.”

The Public Health Association is calling for more public education and support for smokers who want to quit as a result of the new smoking bans, Dr Keating says. She points out smoking costs the New Zealand economy many billions of dollars in health care costs, loss of production from illness and commercial and residential fire.

“New Zealand should aim for a smoking rate below five percent for all sectors of society by 2020. Spending more on quitting and prevention would be extremely cost effective given the huge personal societal costs of smoking,” she says.

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