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Asthma Foundation worried by tobacco revelations

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation

4 July, 2008

Asthma Foundation worried by tobacco lobby revelations

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation, a member of the Smokefree Coalition (SFC), is seriously concerned about reports that a pro-tobacco lobby group has misled New Zealanders regarding its backers and what its intentions are.

The New Zealand Association of Convenience Stores (NZACS) has previously claimed it is simply the voice of retailers who it says stand to lose out if retail tobacco displays are banned, which is being discussed by Parliament.

However, when questioned by Parliament’s health select committee on Wednesday, the NZACS admitted that its membership includes several tobacco companies.

Other admissions NZACS made to the select committee about rebates provided to retailers by tobacco companies are now being investigated by the Ministry of Health, in light of accusations they flout the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990.

NZACS chairman Bryce Taylor has made out that it’s no surprise that suppliers including tobacco companies are represented by NZACS as well as store owners. However many Kiwis will not be aware of the central role tobacco companies play in this organisation. Several major league players including British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco are behind the NZACS.

The select committee was hearing oral submissions in relation to a petition to ban retail displays of tobacco products. A petition by the Cancer Society and others sparked a Ministry of Health public consultation on tobacco displays canvassing three options: retaining the status quo, further restrictions and an outright ban. Recently-released figures show that more than 80 percent of respondents favoured a ban.

Retail tobacco displays are banned in most Canadian provinces, Iceland, Thailand and Tasmania is phasing them out. They are under review in the UK and New South Wales.

The Foundation and its SFC partners stress that there is extremely strong public support for a ban, including from smokers, and increasing evidence that links retail tobacco displays with smoking uptake among children.

The vast majority of the estimated 200 000 New Zealanders with chronic respiratory problems smoke tobacco or used to. The Foundation is working hard with other health organisations to try to prevent another generation of Kiwis having their lives cut short through emphysema and lung cancer.

“Retail tobacco displays are one of the last large-scale advertising mechanisms available to get tobacco in the faces of our children and we need to get rid of them. While recent statistics showing that fewer Kiwis are smoking are pleasing, it is so important to remember that smoking is a highly controlling addiction that causes grief for so many people,” says Foundation Executive Director, Jane Patterson.

“NZACS is acting to protect tobacco industry interests at the expense of the community.”


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