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Smoking is not a game

Smoking is not a game

Green MP Sue Kedgley is worried that toy cigarettes which exhale a white smoke-like substance are being sold at the $2 Shop, essentially teaching young children how to become the smokers of tomorrow.

"Cigarettes are not toys. They are killers," Ms Kedgley, the Green Party Health Spokesperson, said today. "Selling plastic replicas of cigarettes is totally irresponsible, as it encourages children to copy and to learn the harmful adult behaviour of smoking. I am particularly concerned the toys are aimed at children aged three and up."

The toys are lifelike replicas of cigarettes which, when sucked on, exude a substance designed to imitate smoke. The word 'cigarette' is written close to the butt. They come in packs of two entitled "Smoking Cigarette". There is no indication on the pack as to what the ingredients are that produce the 'smoke'.

Made in China, the packs have a warning on the back stating: 'Choking Hazard-Small parts. Not for Children under 3 years'. But there is no warning that the smoke should not be inhaled or that it could be a hazard to health, Ms Kedgley said.

Ms Kedgley urged the $2 Shop chain to immediately respond responsibly and withdraw the toys from sale. She also queried whether the Health Ministry had investigated the items. "If not, why not," she said. Ms Kedgley has written to Health Minister Annette King asking her to investigate and recall the toy cigarettes.

The timing of the call is particularly relevant, as the Government is due soon to debate a proposed total ban on smoking in pubs, bars, restaurants, offices and all other work places; aimed at improving public health. The ban was proposed earlier this month in amendments to the Smoke-Free Environments (Enhanced Protection) Amendment Bill by the health select committee, which Ms Kedgley deputy chairs.

"It will make a mockery of the positive changes proposed in the new bill, if we allow commercial enterprises to 'train' our young people to smoke with these insidious toys," Ms Kedgley said. Ms Kedgley is proposing to move an amendment to the bill banning the sale of toy cigarettes.

The Green Party is aware that these 'Smoking cigarettes' are on sale now at the following $2 Shops: Wellington (Cuba Mall), Wairoa, Napier, Taupo and Invercargill (but they are sold as singles in Invercargill, not as a two-pack). The following $2 Shops have them on order: Thames (but Thames also has fake cigars in stock) and Hastings. The Hamilton $2 Shop has only fake cigars in stock, and are not sure if they are going to get more of the 'Smoking cigarettes'. The Gisborne and Whangarei $2 Shops stopped selling them after customers complained.

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