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Smokefree legislation will save lives

Smokefree legislation will save lives

The Public Health Association says the recommendation by Parliament’s Health Select Committee to ban smoking in bars and restaurants is a courageous move that will save lives.

In a report to Parliament on the Smokefree Environments (Enhanced Protection) Amendment Bill, the Health Select Committee has recommended bars, restaurants, casinos go smokefree, with a 12-month lead in time. The Select Committee is also calling for the same provisions to apply to licensed clubs and gaming venues.

PHA director Dr Gay Keating says it is estimated smoking costs the New Zealand economy many billions of dollars in health care costs, loss of production from illness, commercial and residential fires.

“Every day in New Zealand, an estimated 12 people die early from tobacco use.”

Dr Keating says the PHA supports the views of the Select Committee that workers should not have to choose between their health and their jobs.

“In the hospitality industry this will often mean the young, women and those that have few other employment opportunities will be placed in this unhealthy situation unless all workplaces go smokefree.”

Some smokers may feel victimised by the proposed legislation but research has found non-smoking patrons are at increased risk of heart disease after just 30 minutes of exposure to second hand cigarette smoke, Dr Keating says.

The Public Health Association is calling on sports clubs to take a lead and immediately introduce family-friendly smokefree social events, ahead of the legislation.

The PHA is disappointed the Select Committee has moved away from recommending a ban on the display of tobacco products but Dr Keating has welcomed the Select Committee’s call for more graphic health warnings on tobacco products.

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