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Let’s Ramp Up Efforts To Make Aotearoa Smoke Free By 2025

The College of Public Health Medicine welcomes the announcement by the Government of the development of a Smokefree 2025 Action Plan to speed the country towards achievement of its Smokefree 2025 goal.

As a country, we are making progress to reduce the level of smoking, says College President Dr Jim Miller. But we are not yet on target to meet the 2025 goal.

Smoking remains a leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand, contributing to the deaths of more than 4500 people in New Zealand every year. It is also linked to many diseases including asthma, chronic obstructive respiratory disease, lung cancer and other cancers. In children second-hand smoke can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, asthma attacks, chest infections, and otitis media (‘glue ear’).

Māori and Pacific peoples are disproportionately affected by smoking and its effects on health, with both Māori and Pacific peoples more likely to smoke than other New Zealanders.

The country will not reach its Smokefree goal by focusing solely on individual smoking behavior, says the College.

The proposals include a set of actions including making smoked tobacco products less available.

“Quitting smoking is not easy, but research has shown that population-level control initiatives, such as reducing access to tobacco products, can help people to quit and prevent them from relapsing”, says Dr Miller. Regulating and reducing retail availability of tobacco products is an approach that the College has previously called for.

“Making tobacco products less addictive will also help people to quit”, says Dr Miller.

A recent survey of smokers and those who have recently quit smoking show that there is strong support for New Zealand’ goal of being Smokefree by 2025.

“It is great to see ambitious proposals to tackle this very important public health issue, and we would encourage everyone to take part in the consultation.”

Sources cited:

Edwards R. Smokers support Smokefree 2025 goal and measures to help achieve it. NZ Doctor, 8 July 2020.

Edwards R, Hoek J, Wilson N, Waa A. What does the 2019 / 20 NZ Health Survey tell us about progress towards a Smokefree Aotearoa? Public Health Expert blog, 14 December, 2020.

EY / Ministry of Health. Evaluation of the tobacco excise increases as a contributor to Smokefree 2025. Wellington: Ministry of Health, November 2018.

Ministry of Health. Proposals for a Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan: Discussion document. Wellington: Ministry of Health, April 2021.

New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine. Ending the Tobacco Epidemic in New Zealand. Wellington: NZCPHM, 2016.

New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine. A Prescription for Health and Equity for All. Wellington: NZCPHM, 2020.

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