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2012 Tobacco-free Aotearoa Conference

Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health

Thursday 8 November 2012; 6.45pm

SPEECH
2012 Tobacco-free Aotearoa Conference
Banquet Hall; Parliament, Wellington,

[delivered on her behalf by Skye Kimura]

Tena koutou katoa

I would like to welcome you all here to parliament. We have spent the day reflecting on the journey towards becoming a smoke free nation. Today, we have shared new ideas and fresh stories, we have brought in new perspectives and expertise, and we have recalled the work that each of us has done.

This conference has been a great reminder of why the journey to becoming smokefree is so important. Our focus on ‘lifting our game’ has also channelled our thoughts about action into the future. Each of us has played a role in tobacco control, and each of us can take away from this conference, examples of how to move our communities closer and closer towards our goal of becoming smokefree by 2025. Closer to our aspirations for the health and wellbeing of our whanau.

I spoke earlier today about what we are doing as a government to move us towards our goal of becoming smokefree. Tonight, however, is about you.

Tonight is about celebrating the contribution that you have made towards our shared goal of becoming a smokefree Aotearoa by 2025.

From our researchers to health practitioners, advocates, and cessation specialists – each of you have played a vital role in moving us towards our goal of becoming smokefree by 2025.

There is a saying that if the ‘kaupapa’ is right everything else will fall into place. And I believe that I have seen this happening in the area of tobacco control.

The vision of becoming a smokefree nation was living in our communities long before it was adopted as an aspirational goal of this government. Over many years there have been a great number of leaders who have worked on all fronts to create long lasting behavioural and attitudinal change within our communities.

I think that changing attitudes towards smoking is one of the biggest barriers in our efforts to become smokefree. While I see that there are some people still clinging to the habit, I think that we have indeed passed the tipping point of change, and are now seeing a critical mass of people who are staunch advocates for smoking cessation, and for moving us towards becoming a smokefree nation.

Even our babies and our children have taken up the challenge of telling their parents, or nannies and koroheke to give up the habit. It gives me great pleasure to see our gorgeous kids coming home from kohanga or childcare centres and telling their parents that smoking is not their future, and telling their parents to stop smoking.

And it gives me great delight for a couple of reasons. The first is because there is no better incentive for change than our beautiful taonga that is our tamariki. The second is because it tells me that what we are doing is working. We are successfully reaching into our homes and our whanau, and sending the right message into our communities. That is, that smoking is not our future.

It also tells me that we are no longer alone in the journey towards smokefree, we now have advocates for smokefree in our schools, in our organisations, amongst our whanau and all across our communities. We have momentum for change.

We still have more work to do to eradicate this terrible substance from our lives, and tomorrow I am sure we will start looking into the next steps for tobacco control. Tonight, however, is an opportunity to pause, to take stock and to give thanks to you for the work you have done to get us to this point.

Tonight I want to acknowledge each of you and the hard work and commitment that you have shown in pursuit of our shared goal of becoming smokefree Aotearoa. And I thank you and congratulate you for speeding the tides of change on the place of tobacco in this country.

As Associate Minister of Health, I have had the privilege of fronting some of the change that is been made in the area of tobacco control, but there is a saying that we have in Maori:

“Ka tika a muri, ka tika a mua”

If it is right in the back, then it will be right in the front.

In other words, it means that with the right groundwork in place those leading the charge can be secure and ready to move forward.

And move forward we will. I thank you for the wonderful korero that has been shared today, for the staunch advocacy of smokefree initiatives and for continuing your own work towards our goal.

Tena koutou katoa.

ENDS

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