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Māori Leaders Call For Urgent Intervention By The Waitangi Tribunal

Māori tobacco control advocates remain resolute in their fight to create a smokefree Aotearoa and ensure flourishing health outcomes for all whānau in Aotearoa. On the 29th of January 2024, Rōpū Tupeka Kore claimants filed an urgent application to the Waitangi Tribunal challenging the Crown’s plan to repeal the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act passed by the previous Labour Government.

The Waitangi Tribunal has set a deadline for the Crown to justify the repeal of Smokefree legislation by Wednesday the 7th of February. Once documents are received from all parties the Tribunal will decide on whether the claim will be granted an urgent hearing.

There have been submissions to parliament and a public outcry from a range of parties since the announcement of the Smokefree Act repeal just before Christmas 2023. This week the government has been called to task about its own transparency, in particular its potential collusion with the tobacco industry. Public health researchers are urging government ministers to reveal all affiliations with tobacco companies, asserting that their language and key talking points for the repeal closely imitate the tobacco industry rhetoric. Public health professor on MPs tobacco links | RNZ

Sue Taylor, chairperson for Te Rōpū Tupeka Kore says “The submission to the Waitangi Tribunal is a strategic step, symbolising an extensive and comprehensive effort to address the multifaceted challenges posed by tobacco use and the corporations that blame individuals for using their addictive and harmful products.”

At the heart of this submission is acknowledgement that Māori sovereignty means more than just a Smokefree future, it means having a healthcare system that is honest, inclusive, and equitable reflecting the unique needs of Māori; Furthermore, it means that pae ora (well-being) becomes an inalienable human right for every individual, developing a future where health equity knows no bounds.

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