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"We don’t want our children sucked in by tobacco"

Embargoed to 31 May 2008
World Smokefree Day –31 May 2008

“We don’t want our children sucked in by tobacco marketing” say leading medical, public health and youth agencies

Leading medical, public health and youth agencies have hit out at aggressive retail marketing of tobacco, in an open letter published today.

The open letter has been signed by the Cancer Society of New Zealand, The National Heart Foundation of New Zealand, Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Barnardos New Zealand, Royal New Zealand Plunket Society and many others.

These prominent community groups say that there is enormous community support for getting tobacco out of sight in shops and they are putting their collective weight behind the call.

Cancer Society Tobacco Control Advisor Ms. Belinda Keenan says: "Currently tobacco is treated the same as milk, sweets and other household products. But it isn’t like these at all. Tobacco is highly addictive and causes lethal cancers. It is utterly inappropriate to be allowing tobacco to be freely promoted through retail powerwalls in the shops children visit most often."

National Heart Foundation Medical Director, Dr. Norman Sharpe, urges more rapid progress on getting tobacco out of sight in stores. “Anyone in marketing realises that retail displays are an incredibly effective marketing tool. There is no justification for continuing to exempt retailers from the ban on tobacco advertising. We want to see action to get tobacco out of sight now to support would-be smokers and quitters to be smokefree. This is an important step towards achieving a truly smokefree New Zealand."

Barnados Communications and Advocacy Manager Mr. Peter Gerrie says: "The vast majority of people the tobacco industry calls 'new smokers' are in fact children. Getting cigarettes out of sight will significantly reduce marketing opportunities for tobacco companies."

Royal New Zealand Plunket Society Policy Analyst Ms. Cathy Kern says: “Smoking in families is the main cause of preventable health problems for children so Plunket supports any measures that will help make it easier for smokers to give up. We’re also keen to ensure new generations can grow up without taking up smoking. Making all tobacco advertising a thing of the past will certainly be a great help."

All groups are encouraged by the latest Ministry statistics which show significant decreases in smoking prevalence. Getting tobacco out of sight in shops is a key measure to maintain this pressure so that smoking rates, especially among young people, continue to fall.


ENDS

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