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Delamere Challenges To Get Serious Over Tobacco

Delamere Challenges Colleagues To Get Serious In The War On Tobacco

Associate Health Minister Hon Tuariki Delamere today called on his Parliamentary colleagues to get serious in the battle to combat the ill health effects of tobacco smoking.

"The United States Government, with the multi-billion dollar law suit it has filed against the big tobacco companies, is showing the way and I think New Zealand should give serious consideration to taking similar action," he said.

The US action alleges the tobacco companies conspired since 1954 to hide their knowledge of the devastating health effects and the addictive nature of tobacco.

Mr Delamere said "For too long, we have put this issue in the too-hard basket. Yet we know that 4500 New Zealanders die every year from the effects of smoking, many thousands more suffer long-term ill effects and the health system spends millions of dollars a year treating smoking-related illnesses.

"For a start, politicians could commit themselves to rejecting the blandishments of the tobacco lobbyists. We could refuse to accept any money or other gifts from the tobacco companies.

"I note that Tony MacGuire, the chief lobbyist for the tobacco industry in New Zealand, speaking on television last week, was eagerly looking forward to my defeat at the next election. This is a clear warning to the voters of New Zealand that the tobacco companies will stop at nothing to silence their critics.

"The Government, in addition to investigating the possibilities of action in the courts, could also consider putting a great deal more of the $700 million a year it collects from tobacco taxes into smoking cessation programmes.

"There will undoubtedly be initial difficulties in following these courses of action, but the long-term benefits to the nation would be immense. The time for action is here," concluded the Minister.

Ends

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