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UNICEF NZ Urges Progress on Plain Packaging of Tobacco

UNICEF NZ Urges Progress on Plain Packaging of Tobacco without Delay

In its oral submission to the Health Select Committee today, UNICEF NZ expressed its strong support for the Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill as a measure that will help reduce the uptake of smoking, and urged parliament to implement the new law without delay.

“Children need to be protected from tobacco because it is highly addictive and kills 50 percent of its users. With 2,000 children under ten years of age smoking their first cigarette every year, it is imperative that parliament move swiftly to implement plain packaging so that tobacco is less attractive to children and young people,” UNICEF NZ National Advocacy manager, Deborah Morris-Travers told the Select Committee.

“Smoking is associated with at least 39 child morbidity and mortality risks so any effort to deter children from taking up smoking is in the national interest. We know that removing cigarette displays in shops is working to reduce smoking – with the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Year 10 Snapshot Survey showing a decline in smoking from 6.4 percent in 2012, to 3.8 percent in 2013. We expect plain packaging to have a similar impact on smoking rates amongst young people.”

Branded tobacco products – logos, colours and words to describe the product – create an emotional connection to users and also enable tobacco companies to market more attractively to children. Plain packaging would prevent this marketing technique while increasing the prominence of health warnings and is a logical next step in the effort to make Aotearoa New Zealand smoke-free by 2025.

“The Bill is consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires the government to provide ways to protect children from dangerous drugs (Article 33) and to protect children from any activities that could harm their development (Article 36). We applaud the government for its bold leadership towards a smoke-free society and we encourage parliament to pass this law without delay,” concluded Ms Morris-Travers.

-Ends-

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