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O'Connor applauds DHBs' decision to go smoke-free

O'Connor applauds DHBs' decision to go smoke-free

Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor today welcomed a decision by District Health Boards to introduce smokefree worksites, saying it is a continuation of New Zealand's work as a world leader in tobacco control.

Just ahead of World Smokefree Day on 31 May, chief executives of the country's 21 District Health Boards agreed to make all DHB worksites smokefree by May 2004.

Mr O'Connor commended the DHBs on their decision and supported their moves to encourage other health providers, with whom they have contracts, to work towards being smokefree as well.

The move by the DHBs coincides with the hearing in Parliament of the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill. The private members bill seeks to extend the existing protections in the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 for workers and the public, particularly workers in smoky venues and workplaces, against the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

Second-hand smoke causes 388 deaths in New Zealand a year, while active smoking accounts for about 4700 deaths a year.

Earlier this month, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was adopted unanimously by the World Health Assembly in Geneva, where New Zealand was praised for its contribution.

Mr O'Connor said many countries had complimented New Zealand at the WHA about what a good job it had done with its enthusiasm and dedication throughout the negotiation process for the framework convention.

"The recognition New Zealand has received owes much to the tireless advocacy and negotiating skills of Government officials and non-government organisations, like the Maori Smoke-free Coalition, Cancer Society and ASH."

Mr O'Connor said the Convention represented a real milestone in global public health.

He also congratulated ASH on being one of six recipients in the Western Pacific region of a World Health Organisation tobacco award. The award recognises ASH's outstanding contribution to tobacco control in New Zealand.

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