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World Conference on Tobacco

July 12, 2006

World Conference on Tobacco

Initiatives arising from an international conference on reducing harm associated with tobacco could have major benefits in New Zealand, Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor says.

The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health is being held this week in Washington DC, and features the latest research on the science of tobacco and its effects.

Researchers at the three-yearly conference, which is attended by about 4000 delegates including several New Zealanders, are presenting topics including addiction, cessation, public policy, second-hand smoke and smokeless tobacco, Mr O'Connor said.

"The conference is a great opportunity for New Zealand health professionals to find out how we can improve the extensive work we are already doing to reduce tobacco related harm."

New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to legislate for smoke-free indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants, Mr O'Connor said.

"We also have a national freephone, Quitline, which provides counselling and subsidised nicotine replacement therapy and have rolled out programmes such as Aukati Kai Paipa to specifically reduce smoking rates among Maori women and their whanau."

In New Zealand, smoking is the largest cause of preventable death, with an estimated 4500 people dying each year from smoking related illnesses.

A third of Maori deaths are directly associated with smoking related illnesses.
Smoking rates among Maori dropped five per cent in 2004 (from 52 to 47 per cent) but smoking remains a massive problem.

New Zealand, which is a signatory to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, is recognised as a world leader in implementing a well-coordinated and effective tobacco control programme.


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