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Dangers of second-smoke demonstrated

10 October 2000 Media Statement

Dangers of second-smoke demonstrated

Health Minister Annette King says new research findings confirms the need for stronger measures to protect people from exposure to second-hand smoke.

"The new research indicates some 388 deaths a year are attributable to second-hand smoke. This is over and above the 4700 New Zealanders who die each year from smoking-related illnesses. The figure of 388 represents an additional eight percent over and above deaths due to direct smoking, and about three quarters the number of people killed each year on New Zealand roads."

Mrs King was commenting on the findings of a report, Deaths in New Zealand Attributable to Second Hand Cigarette Smoke. The report, commissioned by the Ministry of Health, was written by Professor Alistair Woodward, Wellington School of Medicine, and tobacco researcher Dr Murray Laugesen.

The report estimated that the greatest risk of exposure to secondhand smoke occurred at work and in the home (accountable for 145 and 193 deaths respectively), and also estimated that 50 Sudden Infant Death Syndrome deaths per year were attributable to second-hand smoke.

Mrs King said the Government had already indicated its commitment to help people quit smoking, with the announcement of $12 million per annum additional funding for nicotine replacement therapy, and cessation help for Maori in the budget.

"Now we have further evidence to support our call to introduce measures to protect people from the risk of second-hand smoke. The Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 has helped reduce the number of deaths attributable to second hand smoke, but these findings provide further support to calls to restrict smoking in workplaces and public places."

The report by Professor Woodward and Dr Laugesen is available on the Ministry of Health website: www.moh.govt.nz

ENDS

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