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Tobacco, Trade and Advertising – Current Challenges

Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health

4 May 2014

Tobacco, Trade and Advertising – Current Challenges
Youth take action on NCDs: a focus on tobacco control

Pre-conference workshop at the World Congress of Cardiology
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Ka mihi atu au ki te tangata whenua, te hau kāinga, nāu te reo karanga ki a mātou.

I firstly greet the traditional owners of this land, the Wurundjeri people.

The issues around tobacco, trade and advertising have, of course, been particularly pronounced for indigenous peoples.

For Aotearoa, tobacco was associated with the arrival of early Pākehā explorers and traders and was used as a currency and article of trade. There was even an exchange of tobacco at the Treaty grounds as iwi and hapū leaders gathered to sign Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

A century later, it was to our national shame, that Māori men and women in 1984 were recognised as having the highest incidence of lung cancer in the world. That then, is our history which provides the context for today’s challenge.

It is, therefore, extremely inspiring to come to this forum – Youth Take Action on NCDS- to be witness to the transformation our young leaders seek in tobacco control.

And I want to share a story from home, about one community – on the outskirts of Wellington, huddled in the hills of Wainuiomata.

A couple of years ago a study from Otago University found children from Wainuiomata were eleven times more likely to be exposed to cigarette smoking in cars than in Karori – another suburb of Wellington.

As Associate Minister of Health I have been advancing a series of tobacco control measures – including
• the introduction of plain packaging for cigarette packs;
• consistent and sustained increases in tobacco excise;
• the removal of tobacco displays from shops;
• supporting innovative efforts to reduce the harm and wider costs of smoking;
• and beginning to look at the anomaly of duty free tobacco.

But the area of smoking with children in cars – while it has given me huge cause for concern – at this point I have been unable to persuade my cabinet colleagues of the need for regulatory or legislative change.

And this is where we come to Wainuiomata Smokefree Cars.

A campaign team comprised of local community stakeholders and students from the local high schools established this exciting campaign – including the involvement of the local rugby league team, the Māori wardens, the city council and various health centres.

The face of the campaign was a group of local young people called the “hashtags”.

Their role was to champion the campaign – using whatever means they had available whether it be surfing, skateboarding, Pasifika culture, sports and website material. Their tag was Smokefree Cars – that’s how we roll.

I love their enthusiasm, their bold approach and their belief that for change to happen, everyone needs to step up.

I have to say, I was really heartened to hear that the Pacific Health Ministers supported the adoption of the Tobacco-Free Pacific Goal by 2025 at the Tenth Pacific Health Ministers Meeting held in July last year.

The goal to achieve a Smokefree Oceania is a mission of life—and I mean that literally. Our concerted goals across the Pacific, Australia and Aotearoa are to reduce smoking prevalence and to prolong life for future generations.

There are many areas where we can help and learn from each other ranging from initiatives to reduce youth smoking, provision of cessation services through to policy and development of strong comprehensive legislation.

Today’s workshop– like the Wainuiomata Hashtags – is a fantastic initiative to get us all together, to take action – and I’m really thrilled that I can be here to listen and learn from you.

ENDS

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