Harawira: Up In Smoke
Up In Smoke
“We don’t smoke this shit - we sell it. We reserve the right to smoke it, to the young, the poor, the black, and the stupid.”
Such are the words of the tobacco industry.
Well - today we launch a campaign to rid our country of bastards who think like this, the companies they work for, and the poison they sell us.
Thank you all for coming.
Getting ready for this event, and juggling other priorities has been pretty stressful, but getting people together to celebrate World Smokefree Day and to plan for a Smokefree Aotearoa makes the work easy.
I’ve been an anti-smoking nutter for fifteen years now, but when I became an MP my focus changed and so did my target, so telling the Select Committee that we should be banning cigarettes from Aotearoa, was really the logical next step in the campaign to reduce smoking illnesses and deaths.
And it should be no surprise that my focus is Maori smokers. You all know the stats: it accounts for a third of our deaths, Maori women have the highest rate of lung cancer in the world, blah, blah…
But it’s not just about Maori either - tobacco kills 4500 Kiwis every year. If that was any other product, it would be banned tomorrow.
And smoking cigarettes is way worse than any other drug, because every puff is poison and it’s legal poison, and it’s so easy to get. Like the Quit ad says: “Every cigarette is doing you damage.”
Those who attended the Aukati Kai Paipa Hui at Turangawaewae in April heard me outline a goal: TO GET TOBACCO OUT OF AOTEAROA BY 10 DECEMBER 2010; six years after bars and restaurants went smoke-free.
As part of that I announced that we would be fighting this battle across a broad front - to include as many different groups as possible, to cover every loophole we could, and to build numbers towards a successful outcome.
Those campaigns include:
1 A PETITION TO PARLIAMENT
Because signing petitions gives everybody the opportunity to be involved in this crusade.
2 A REFERENDUM
52% of us already want tobacco out of Aotearoa. Getting this on the next ballot will force government to make tobacco illegal.
3 A ROYAL COMMISSION
Some of the medical and legal fraternity have suggested a Royal Commission to highlight the destruction being done by tobacco, and also to force government to make tobacco illegal.
4 LEGAL ACTION
We have engaged a lawyer to prepare a case against the tobacco industry. Preliminary advice suggests they may be in breach of a number of laws. We expect to announce court action within the next few months.
We are working on two fronts here. The first is to amend current legislation to broaden the scope of smokefree areas in the country. The second of course, is a Bill to make the production, manufacture and sale of tobacco products, illegal.
We already have people preparing the groundwork for each campaign, and we will launch each campaign separately over the next few months.
Tobacco companies - watch this space !!!
The power of the third sector
You know, I’ve been knocking around the smokefree community for a few years - bludging track suits off Trevor Shailer, giving out water bottles and other stuff to paddlers, and helping the Far North Aukati Kai Paipa’s lay down some tracks which are supposed to help people get off smoking, but are probably scaring them back to it - but it’s only over the last few months that I’ve realised how big is the sector driven by non-government organisations who are responsible for the smoke-free initiatives and smoking cessation programmes.
Groups like the Health Sponsorship Council, Te Hotu Manawa Maori, the Quit Group, Te Reo Marama, Aukati Kai Paipa, Auahi Kore, Global Smokefree, and a host of other organisations around the country have been working for years to bring our smoking rates down.
And I just want to say what a fabulous job you’re doing. Maori smoking is down 5%, and teenage smoking is dropping too. So take a moment team, and give yourselves a bloody big clap.
And you know how you can tell it’s working? When the kids have got it, that’s how.
A couple of years ago I was at the Waka Ama Nationals, and I saw some kids go up to this guy who was smoking, without anybody telling them to do it, and tell him “hey mister - waka ama is smokefree - you got to go up over the fence if you want to smoke.” Beautiful. This guy looked around all embarrassed, put his smoke out, and said “sorry kids.” And the kids just smiled and said “that’s alright - thanks mate” and wandered off. Just beautiful. So is the message getting through? Hell yes.
And I know what a shit job you got trying to get smokers to stop - how you keep smiling and planning and scheming and doing the business is a credit to you and your teams.
Shane Bradbrook also tells me that you guys are recognised overseas as being experts in your field too, and I already know enough to know that most of you are flax roots too which appeals to our people - working with people who don’t wear white coats and carry clipboards.
I know that you have been really supportive of my korero, even though I know some of you thought my ideas were a little wacky to start with.
But I also know that we share a common goal, and I thank you for being here to support the kaupapa - especially ‘cause I’m obviously intelligent like you and therefore a member of the Maori Party, and I know that most of your programmes are government funded.
And Shane Bradbrook probably said it best last week when he said “Shit this isn’t about Hone Harawira. If Rodney Hide was pushing this we’d support it ... wouldn’t we?”
This is way bigger than Hone Harawira and his battleplan.
This is about us. This is about our whanau. This is about Aotearoa.
And this is about us having the courage to throw out the murderers, and take back our future.
Kia kaha tatou.
Kia ora koutou katoa.