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Sponsorship criticism unfair


Sponsorship criticism unfair

Criticism of a tobacco company’s sponsorship of an anti-smoking programme is completely unwarranted, ACT Health spokesman Heather Roy said today.

British American Tobacco last year gave $200,000 to He Papa Pounamu Foundation, a charitable trust set up by Trevor Grice, Celia Lashlie and Norm Hewitt, to fund its anti-smoking programme.

“The ‘no strings attached’ donation is allowing the trust to implement its programme in some of the poorest areas in New Zealand,” Mrs Roy said. “The aim is to build stronger communities and assist at-risk children from dysfunctional homes where drug and alcohol abuse are commonplace. The foundation has earned the respect and gratitude of the communities it has targeted.

“Criticism from organisations funded by the taxpayer is petty and uninformed. ASH received taxpayers’ money to forbid our old soldiers from smoking in their local RSA. They also used this funding to lobby MPs on the Smokefree Bill. But when have we heard them lobbying anyone to prevent the smoking of ‘P’ or other mind-altering substances, which threaten the lives of our most vulnerable children? Never.

“Ironically, much of the funding these government-subsidised organisations receive to push Labour’s policies is derived from taxation from the tobacco industry. Not only are these most recent criticisms small-minded and petty, they are hypocritical.

“Private bodies like the He Papa Pounamu Foundation, who receive no state funding and are providing valuable services to the community, should be left alone and allowed to do their good works without hurdles being put in their way.

“Labour could learn a lesson from Salvation Army founder William Booth, who was criticised for collecting money in pubs. His retort was that ‘I don’t mind using the devil’s money against him’,” Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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