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Alarm Over Tobacco Consumption Rise In New Zealand

Wednesday, 19 February 2003

Alarm over tobacco consumption rise in New Zealand
Smokefree Coalition calls for more funding for tobacco control

The Smokefree Coalition is calling for stronger tobacco control measures following the release of Statistics NZ data showing a seven percent rise in tobacco sales in 2002. The Coalition says the increase represents about a six percent rise in consumption.

Statistics NZ figures show tobacco products released for sale in New Zealand increased from 3427 million cigarettes in 2001 to 3635 million in 2002. Consumption of manufactured cigarettes rose eight percent and hand rolled cigarettes rose four percent, compared to the previous year.

Analysis by the Smokefree Coalition shows the rise appears to be real and not due to trade distortions.

Coalition director Leigh Sturgiss says there is a clear need for stronger tobacco control measures, including smokefree environments, stronger health warnings, limits on tobacco product displays, mass media campaigns, and more assistance for smokers who want to quit.

"We know that tobacco tax increases, in particular, are extremely effective in getting people to quit smoking. The last major rise in the price of cigarettes, in 2000, was followed by an 18% decrease in tobacco consumption.

Any increase in tobacco taxation should be spent helping smokers quit, she says.

"Calls to the Quitline and demand for other quit services is high, demonstrating that tens of thousands of New Zealanders want to quit smoking. With proper funding for multimedia and quit campaigns, we would quickly see a decline in the number of smokers in New Zealand.

Strong laws against second-hand smoke would also persuade smokers to quit or cut down, according to Ms Sturgiss. She says there is research evidence showing that smokefree environments deter young people from taking up the habit.

"Smoking in bars in banned in California, and only 17 percent of Californians smoke."


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