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Gov't top up Green quit-smoking plan

The Green Party's largest budget initiative, $4 million to fund quit-smoking programmes for low-income smokers, will be underway by summer.

And the Government has topped up the funding by an extra $2.18 million to extend the quit-smoking programmes to all moderate to heavy smokers, irrelevant of their income.

"The Green Party's priority was to make sure that low-income smokers could afford nicotine patches which could help them kick the physical addiction, especially after the $1 per pack tax hike," said Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley.

"But of course we are delighted at the additional funding which will mean all smokers can get four weeks of nicotine patches for less than the price of a packet of cigarettes, through health professionals or Quitline. A further four-week supply can be provided if needed."

Ms Kedgley also welcomed the quick implementation of the budget initiative by Health Minister Annette King.

"This programme will have a positive impact on the overall health of New Zealanders, the state of the public health system and flow-on effects to the economy. The sooner it gets started the better," she said.

Monitoring and evaluation of the quit-smoking programmes will start one month after the nicotine patches are made available. The cost of monitoring is included in the total $6.18 million.

Sue Kedgley MP: 04 470 6728 or 025 270 9088 Gina Dempster, Press secretary: 04 470 6723 or 021 1265 289

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