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Call To Increase Tobacco Control Funding

21 February 2005

Health Groups Call For Government To Increase Tobacco Control Funding

The Smokefree Coalition is calling for the Government to put more money into tobacco control measures, in light of new figures that show tobacco consumption rates have remained static. The Smokefree Coalition represents 27 health groups, including the Cancer Society, Heart Foundation, Stroke Foundation and Asthma and Respiratory Foundation.

Figures released today by Statistics New Zealand show that the number of tailor-made cigarettes available for consumption was down slightly from last year, while the tobacco available for consumption (often used to make roll-your-own cigarettes) was up.

Smokefree Coalition Director Leigh Sturgiss says that although the Government receives over $900 million is tobacco tax each year, only a fraction of this is spent on tobacco control programmes, like quitting or working with young people.

“Only around $28 million a year is spent on initiatives such as helping people to quit smoking, promoting smokefree environments, encouraging young people not to start and research. This is a fraction of the money that the Government receives from tobacco tax.

“If a mere 10 percent of this amount was directed to tobacco control initiatives, we would see our smoking rates start to come down – rather than hover around the 25 percent mark as they have for the past 10 years.

Leigh Sturgiss says that the new law requiring indoor workplace, including bars and restaurants, to be smokefree was encouraging a large number of people to quit, and the Government should take advantage of this by providing more funding to quit smoking programmes.

“Calls to the Quitline have almost doubled from December 2003, showing that the smokefree legislation has been a significant motivator in getting people to quit.”

“There is also a need for media campaigns to encourage young people to stay smokefree. A few million dollars – a drop in the bucket when you consider the tobacco tax collected – would enable such campaigns to be developed and run.

ENDS


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