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Tobacco Under Fire

TOBACCO UNDER FIRE
Media Statement
EMBARGOED TILL 1PM WEDNESDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 2009


The Maori Affairs Select Committee today approved a request from Maori Party MP Hone Harawira to hold an inquiry into “the impact of tobacco use on Maori”.

“I thank the National Party leadership and in particular Prime Minister John Key and his deputy Bill English for supporting this because if they hadn’t, it would have died on the table,” Mr Harawira said.

“Special thanks also to Tari (Tariana Turia - Co-leader of the Maori Party and Minister with responsibility for Tobacco) for helping to keep the public focus on this issue, for pushing for higher taxes on tobacco, more money for smoking cessation programmes, and a ban on cigarette displays in shops. All these measures will help reduce the number of tobacco deaths and the financial strain on our health system.

“Tobacco kills 5,000 Kiwis every single year, more than 100,000 New Zealanders in the last 25 years alone. It’s time we held those people responsible for these tobacco deaths, accountable for their actions.

“This inquiry is New Zealand’s opportunity to have Tobacco companies explain their actions of promoting and maintaining tobacco addictions which lead to these painful deaths.

“Hopefully we can get some decent lead-in time to organise cancer patients, whänau, health researchers, teachers, tobacco control groups and the tobacco industry itself to come before the committee.

”We hope to call Minister Turia as well, to hear about what she is doing and to get her advice about how best our work can dovetail with her plans.

“We will also be taking this inquiry on the road to make it easier for whänau to attend, and I have no doubt that by the time we finally get the tobacco company execs in front of the committee, we will have gathered enough testimony to really take them to task.

“To be brutally frank I’d like to lynch these bastards,” said Harawira. “I’ve watched too many people die horrible deaths because of their addiction to tobacco, and I’ve seen too much pain and heartache in those left behind to want to be objective about this.

“And I’ve heard too many chilling comments from tobacco executives like ‘We don’t smoke the shit. We reserve that right to the young, the poor, the black and the stupid’ – to have any respect for these people.

“Hopefully, with the help of the people of New Zealand, we can finally bring all these unnecessary deaths to an end.”

ENDS

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