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Tobacco, Not Necessarily Smoke

Where There's Tobacco, There's Not Necessarily Smoke

Health Minister Annette King says the fact that more cigarettes were made available for consumption last year does not mean necessarily that New Zealanders were smoking more.

Mrs King was commenting on Statistics New Zealand data on alcohol and tobacco available for consumption last year. The data, released yesterday, shows the number of cigarettes made available for consumption rose 1.1 percent in 2000 to 3152 million, and loose tobacco available for consumption rose 14.2 percent to 841 tonnes.

"The amount available for consumption doesn't mean that amount was consumed in the time period," Mrs King said. "The excise duty increase in May 2000 and a range of smoking cessation programmes put in place during 2000 mean that there is likely to be a decrease in smoking.

"Let's not forget that thousands of people are trying to quit. Quitline has given out tens of thousands of vouchers for subsidised nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) since November 2000."

Mrs King said the Ministry of Health had informed her that tobacco returns supplied by the two main tobacco companies in New Zealand indicated sales of the eight leading brands of cigarettes in 1999 fell by between 8 percent and 25 percent in 2000. "I'm told sales of five of those brands fell by 12 percent or more.

“It is important to consider the range of data available before concluding if smoking is increasing or decreasing. The Ministry will put out a tobacco fact sheet towards the middle of the year, looking at smoking prevalence, tobacco released for consumption and estimated consumption. Until then, it would be wise not to jump to conclusions about the effectiveness of tobacco control efforts."

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