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ASH Welcomes The Smokefree 2025 Plan But Calls For Immediate Action

ASH welcomes the Government’s draft Smokefree Plan of Action released today and congratulates Minister Verrall on her leadership. Cigarette smoking kills 12 New Zealanders every day and is a key driver of inequality in our society.

There are only 4 years remaining to achieve the Smokefree 2025 goal where less than 5% of adults smoke cigarettes. Except for the wealthiest fifth of the population, we are not on track for this goal; 500,000 adults still smoke cigarettes.

ASH Director, Deborah Hart believes that 3 immediate actions will help reach the goal. “Because of the looming deadline for the Smokefree 2025 goal, 60,000 smokers need to quit every year, up from the 20,000 currently quitting. Helping Māori, Pacific and poor people to quit will make a huge impact in reducing inequality as well as ensuring we meet the Smokefree 2025 goal.

The evidence identifies the three most immediate things the government should do as:

  • Invest in mass media campaigns to encourage more cigarette smokers to make more quit attempts;
  • Support community-led initiatives such as Vape to Save; and
  • Increase the use of less harmful and cheaper alternatives.

ASH understands that the government accepts these three priorities as they are easy to implement, have wide support, and will have big health, economic and environmental impacts. Together, they will reinvigorate the Smokefree 2025 goal. The three priorities must therefore be fully funded in the upcoming budget.

The overall focus in the Plan of Action on reducing affordability, accessibility and attractiveness of cigarette smoking is important. The proposal to remove filters from cigarettes, for example, will deliver both health and environmental benefits. All proposed measures will help reduce cigarette smoking in the longer term.

The Plan of Action, leading with mass media campaigns, supporting communities, and promoting less harmful alternative products, such as vaping, signals the world’s most ambitious plan for a Smokefree nation. The plan continues Aotearoa-New Zealand’s history of strong public health leadership and could give us a good chance of achieving the Smokefree 2025 goal.

Useful information

· Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Aotearoa New Zealand causes over 4,000 deaths each year (12 deaths every day).

· Since 2000, cigarette smoking has caused approximately 100,000 deaths.

· Around 1 in 8 adults smoke cigarettes daily, but this rises to 1 in 3 among Māori.

· On average, cigarette smokers consume 10 cigarettes a day (costing $6,500 a year).

· People smoke cigarettes for the nicotine, but die from the smoke from burning tobacco.

· Cigarette smoking imposes huge financial and health burdens on the poorest New Zealanders: in the poorest fifth of the population, 1 in 4 adults smoke.

· Cigarette smoking is a key driver of inequality. The most wealthy group of people have already reached the Smokefree 2025 goal. The poorest cigarette smokers are caught in a cycle of poverty.

· The Government receives $2.billion in revenue from taxes on cigarettes; The poorest 40% of New Zealanders pay 66% of the tax.

About ASH NZ

ASH - Action for Smokefree 2025, is an independent NGO advocating for evidence based, ethical and effective actions to achieve Smokefree 2025 and reduce the preventable burden of premature death and disease caused by cigarette smoking.

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