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Launch of the Quit Group's "Video Diaries"

Launch of the Quit Group's "Video Diaries" Television commercials

The idea of filming real people, without scripting, and allowing the public to share the highs and lows of their quit experience with them is innovative, exciting and, as the focus group testing shows, sure to make an impact.

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Kia Ora.

Welcome to my fellow Members of Parliament, the tobacco control community, and other esteemed guests.

Thank you for the invitation to launch this latest series of television commercials. I want to first pass on my congratulations to Helen Glasgow and the team at the Quit Group for embracing the phenomenon that is reality TV.

The idea of filming real people, without scripting, and allowing the public to share the highs and lows of their quit experience with them is innovative, exciting and, as the focus group testing shows, sure to make an impact.

I also want to acknowledge Natasha (Tarsh), Stu and Mitch for being brave enough to share their path to quitting with New Zealand. I wish you every success in remaining smoke-free.

While New Zealand is recognised internationally as being a world leader in tobacco control, we can't afford to rest on our laurels.

This initiative is another piece of the tobacco control jigsaw. We must strive to encourage every smoker to at least think about quitting and I believe that through the stories told by Taz, (and Joe), Stu and Mitch, many more are likely to do just this.

New Zealand is in a unique situation whereby we have a national free-phone Quitline service that provides telephone counselling as well as subsidised nicotine replacement therapy. I'm not aware of any other country in the world in this position.

I have been encouraged by the latest call statistics coming out of the Quit Group.

Calls are increasing and more of the callers are young people, and Mâori, the ethnic group that is hardest hit by tobacco. These adverts are likely to increase the numbers of smokers wanting to quit and consequently further increase the number of calls to the Quitline.

By now you would have hopefully all seen the proposed graphic pictorial health warnings on tobacco products that the Ministry of Health has recently consulted on. I call it: "truth in labelling".

It is my belief that these warnings will be an effective measure in not only educating people on the health risks associated with smoking but will also encourage them to make a quit attempt.

Australia launched pictorial health warnings in March of this year and they are now seeing calls to their Quitline increase dramatically. The connection is an obvious one.

We will only succeed in beating the tobacco epidemic if we all work together and move forward in the same direction. Tobacco control workers are some of the most passionate and determined advocates that I've ever come across, and that's saying something coming from the West Coast!

I have been heartened by the recent statistics relating to youth smoking. Daily smoking rates continue to decline in both girls and boys in Year 10. And so they should!

However, student smoking patterns are not improving as well for those living in smoky homes compared with those in homes that do not allow smoking inside.

We know that the more children are exposed to smoking in their home and other places the more likely they are to become smokers. This is why it is crucial to continue to promote smoke-free homes, cars and public places.

We also know that parental smoking is a major risk factor in young people taking up smoking. The more parents that can be empowered to quit the more young people won't start - it sounds like a simple solution, but it will take time and a continued collaborative approach.

I applaud local bodies such as South Taranaki District Council and Upper Hutt City Council, which are taking a strong stand against tobacco by making their parks and playgrounds smoke-free. These types of initiatives all contribute to the big picture as we strive to win the battle against tobacco.

This Government is committed to reducing tobacco use in New Zealand and we are enthusiastic about continuing our support of a strong and vibrant tobacco control community. We want delivery on our objective of fewer New Zealanders smoking and dying from smoking-related illnesses.

Thank you again for coming this evening. It gives me great pleasure to launch these new commercials.

I'll now pass you over to Helen Glasgow, Chief Executive of the Quit Group.

ENDS

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