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Stop NZ's $4.8 million tobacco trade to the Pacifi

Stop NZ's $4.8 million tobacco trade to the Pacific

Due to incorrect data supplied by the Parliamentary Library, figures in the Green Party press release on this subject sent out a short time ago were incorrectly reported as billions when they should read millions. Please replace prior press release with this corrected version. Thanks.

The Greens are urging the Government to ban the export of all tobacco products to the Pacific Islands, to mark World Smoke-free Day tomorrow.

In the year to April 2003, New Zealand exported $4.8 million worth of tobacco products to 12 Pacific island nations, according to provisional Statistics New Zealand data. The islands in the data, provided by the Parliamentary Library, are American Samoa, the Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

"It is totally unacceptable that New Zealand sends products known to cause death and disease, to island nations with which we have traditionally had a special bond and association," Green Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.

"It is silly to export products that contribute to ill-health, and burgeoning health costs, to countries that are economically disadvantaged already, and to which we have traditionally made sizeable aid and assistance contributions. New Zealand itself struggles to fund the health costs of its own tobacco-related illnesses. Why put the same burden onto other countries?" Ms Kedgley asked.

The Statistics NZ figures, which are not expected to vary much when finalised, show a jump in the exports of tobacco products from New Zealand to the Pacific, not only by volume, but also in dollar terms. The $4.8 million exports in the year to April 2003 represents a massive jump from the $2.34 million exported the year before [ie. May 2001 to April 2002], according to corrected information from the Parliamentary Library.

Ms Kedgley said the Green Party was also calling for political parties to sign up to an all-party agreement to support the Bill that would ban smoking in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants. "The Smoke-Free Environments (Enhanced Protection) Bill is vital to protect New Zealanders' health from the dangers of passive smoking," she said. "I urge the Act Party to stop pretending there is no convincing evidence of the harm caused to health by second-hand smoke, and to sign up to the proposed accord."

Meanwhile, Ms Kedgley welcomed the decision by all District Health Boards in New Zealand to make all DHB worksites smoke-free by May 2004. "I hope this example will be followed by all other employers."

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