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Doctors disappointed at Prime Minister’s tobacco stance

Doctors disappointed at Prime Minister’s tobacco stance

Media release, 7 March 2012

Representatives of the New Zealand medical community have written to Prime Minister John Key expressing disappointment at his support for New Zealand’s United States Ambassador Mike Moore hosting a tobacco-industry sponsored reception in Washington DC. The reception took place as part of Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.

The group of 24 doctors and medical professionals, led by School of Medical Sciences oncologist Dr George Laking, say partnering with the tobacco industry is short-sighted and inconsistent with the government’s stated aims and international treaty obligations.

“This is a significant undermining of medical professionals’ efforts to reduce the great harm that tobacco causes New Zealanders,” said Dr Laking.

“The tobacco industry is responsible for the deaths of more 5000 New Zealanders a year. It must not be allowed to find legitimacy in the context of important trade negotiations.

“Letting it do so contradicts the government's smokefree by 2025 goal and is doubly ironic in light of government calls for improved productivity in our health system.”

The letter to Mr Key also points out that New Zealand is a signatory to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which expressly forbids any interaction with the tobacco industry, except to the extent necessary to regulate it, and says no government employee may accept any form of gift or payment from the tobacco industry.

“We consider Ambassador Moore's actions run counter to both these principles,” Dr Laking said.

The letter asked Mr Key to change his position on Ambassador Moore’s actions and invited him to visit some cancer, cardiac and respiratory units if he had any doubt about the harm caused by tobacco.


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