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Minister rubbishes anti-smoking "political party"

8 February 2005

Minister rubbishes anti-smoking "political party"

Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor today rubbished claims of growing discontent with the new smokefree law.

A group of publicans opposed to the new law - which came into force on December 10 and banned smoking in all indoor workplaces - are claiming widespread support for their cause.

But Mr O'Connor said the group represented a tiny minority of publicans, the remainder of who had accepted the ban without fuss.

"The majority of publicans have implemented the ban without any problems, and the Ministry of Health has been working with them to ensure a smooth transition to smokefree environments.

"Infact the response to the new law has been fantastic; the vast majority of New Zealanders have seen the benefits of smokefree workplaces, and have embraced the change.

"This is evidenced by the fact that the Ministry of Health has received only 103 complaints since the law came into force, 35 of which have been resolved. Compliance rates right around the country have been outstanding, and ban is generally working very well."

He said this small band of publicans - which had claimed the status of a political party despite not being registered as one - was wasting its time trying to drum up opposition to the law.

"These people have obviously given little consideration to the health of their workers and patrons."

The Government would not tolerate blatant flouting of the law. "Any publican who promotes smoking inside his or her premises will face prosecution, it's as simple as that."

ENDS


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