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Goodhew: Massey University’s Smokefree Summit

Jo Goodhew

24 MARCH, 2014

Speech: Massey University’s Smokefree Summit

E aku rangatira, tēnā koutou katoa. Ka nui te honore ki te mihi ki a koutou.

Thank you Jacob Tapiata for your warm introduction.

It’s a pleasure to be here today, and I thank Massey University for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this exciting event.

When I learned about this project called It’s My Life I was very impressed that you, the students, are the driving force behind it.

I think it’s important that young people lead the way in creating a Smokefree New Zealand by 2025.

I was also impressed when I learned of the D-Myst campaign in the UK, and what has been achieved – and continues to be achieved - through that.

I look forward to hearing what Katie, the D-Myst spokesperson, has to share with us today.

Tobacco control is a worldwide issue.

Around six million people die every year from smoking-related illnesses.

If nothing changes, tobacco will kill as many as one billion people this century.

The statistics for New Zealand are also scary.

In this country, around 5,000 people die from a smoking-related illness each year.

350 of those are through second-hand smoke.

Smokers are losing an average of 15 years of life compared to non-smokers.

These are our friends and family – including member of my family - and I’m sure many of you here today have been touched in some way by a smoking-related illness or even death.

In 2011, the Government committed to the aspirational goal of a Smokefree New Zealand by 2025. And I was proud. Gutsy, I call it.

This is a vision of huge possibilities.

Imagine, for example, a whole generation that doesn’t even see a tobacco product!

The goal of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025 is certainly audacious - and it would mean New Zealand would be the first smokefree country in the world.

Kiwis have a history of being first with social innovations - women voting for example - and young people certainly have innovative, creative and original ideas when it comes to pushing boundaries for social change.

So there’s no reason we can’t achieve smokefree 2025.

We need to do everything we can to make sure smokefree 2025 becomes our reality.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if any children you may have are born into a country where smoking simply does not exist?

It would be even better if your children or grandchildren don’t have to see you die of a preventable smoking-related disease.

Many of you will be familiar with the steps the Government is taking to help achieve Smokefree New Zealand 2025.

These have included:

- increasing the tax on tobacco products

- removing tobacco displays from shops

- raising the fines given to retailers for selling tobacco to people under 18

- working towards plain packaging.

We also set up the Pathway to Smokefree New Zealand 2025 Innovation Fund, from which your very own project is being funded.

I’m proud to say that we have already reduced the prevalence of smoking in New Zealand to 15 percent.

However, we still have a long way to go to being smokefree.

There are some particular population groups - young people included! – that need more help, or better incentives to quit.

It is my wish that projects such as It’s My Life will be what tips the scales.

We all must take every opportunity to spread the smokefree message and do everything we can to rid New Zealand of the harm caused by tobacco.

Projects like It’s My Life will make a valuable contribution and I wish Massey University, and all of you, every success for this exciting project.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

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