Don’t Undermine Advances To End Tobacco Harm, Public Health Experts Urge
‘Rolling back legislation to prevent harm from smoking is a mistake’, says NZCPHM President Sir Collin Tukuitonga.
‘Smoking is the single biggest commercial risk factor for preventable disease and premature death in Aotearoa New Zealand and is responsible for almost 10% of all health loss. There are large inequities in smoking prevalence by ethnicity and socio-economic status, and related inequities in health outcomes, with smoking causing almost a quarter of all deaths among Māori, as well as impacting negatively on their economic, social and cultural wellbeing.’
There has been good progress by successive Governments to reduce the prevalence of smoking and the extent of the harm that it causes, since the New Zealand Government in 2011 committed to a Smokefree goal by 2025. This has culminated in the comprehensive Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan - Auahi Kore Aotearoa Mahere Rautaki 2025 (Action Plan) for achieving a Smokefree Aotearoa, published in December 2021, and the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Amendment Act 1990 (SERPA Act), which received Royal Assent in December 2022. Some aspects of the Action Plan and the Act represent landmarks in smokefree and public health actions, and place Aotearoa New Zealand at the vanguard of international action to end the global smoking epidemic.
‘We strongly urge the new Government not to undo these gains. Cigarettes remain highly addictive and continue to be sold in almost every dairy, supermarket, and petrol station as if they were a normal consumer product’, says Sir Collin. ‘We can and must act together to prevent further harm. New Zealand should not rely on taxation income from harmful products to fund other policies.’