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NZMSA Stands Against The Proposed Changes To SERPA Legislation

Repeal of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Act and the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan poses a serious threat to the future of all New Zealanders.

The New Zealand Medical Students' Association (NZMSA) calls on the new government coalition to retain Smokefree legislation that has sought significant improvements to peoples’ health nationwide. A recent open letter addressed to the Rt. Hon. Christopher Luxon and incoming ministers for health states the position of the NZMSA collective:

‘We are the future of the Aotearoa medical workforce. We aspire to serve a nation that places the health of all peoples, especially Māori and our most vulnerable communities, at the forefront of policy and legislation. We are disappointed to hear of the proposed repeal of Smokefree legislation and believe this action diminishes our aspirations and our professional obligations of non-maleficence.’

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The Smokefree 2025 Action Plan was supported by the 2011 National-led coalition, and its goals will not be achieved without this world-leading legislation.

NZMSA President and Trainee Intern, Indira Fernando, believes that ‘as our nation’s future doctors, medical students are driven in our studies and work to try and accomplish an Aotearoa that is healthier, safer and fairer for all of its communities. Smokefree legislation is essential to ensuring that future and, as medical students, we hope the government will listen to the advice of experts and support this essential work’.

Student doctors see the effects of tobacco and nicotine first hand and understand the consequences smoking has on generations of New Zealanders. The harms of smoking extend beyond the individual and to the entire whānau, hapū and iwi. Justification for retaining and extending Smokefree legislation can be evidenced from patient stories during their presentations to clinics and theatres with life-threatening diseases.

Fourth year medical student and health professional Seraphine Williams has had numerous conversations with patients in community and hospital wards where they stated their desire to ‘quit smoking’ and wished they had 'never begun’. The health complications and deaths resulting from smoking cannot be minimised. The Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan sought to have future generations to be free from the addictive shackles of smoking. The NZMSA letter reaffirms this intent:

‘We must continue to protect our future tamariki from the harmful effects of smoking, and we are concerned that the repeal of Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 will exhaust this critical opportunity.’

Māori and Pacific communities continue to be disproportionately impacted by the effects of smoking and NZMSA is concerned the proposed repeal will only perpetuate and widen these systemic inequities. NZMSA urges the new government to enforce evidence-based measures that address these inequities. These decisions made during the first 100 days of the new coalition government will determine the health of the nation not only for the next three years, but for generations to come.

NZMSA’s position is that repealing Smokefree legislation will cause untold harm to whānau Māori, vulnerable communities and future generations of New Zealanders.

Ngā mihi nui,

Indira Fernando


New Zealand Medical Students’ Association

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