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O’Connor questions gifts with tobacco purchases

21 October 2002 Media Statement

O’Connor questions use of gifts with tobacco purchases

Associate Minister of Health Damien O'Connor says a tobacco company's promotion of gift packs is morally questionable.

Imperial Tobacco NZ Ltd is selling cigarettes and tobacco in packages along with free items such as bottle openers, compact disc cases and radios at a minimal charge. The Ministry of Health is considering whether the promotion complies with the Smokefree Environments Act 1990.

"Imperial Tobacco claims that the packs are not aimed at young people, but gifts such as CD holders and radios in particular can be attractive to young people. This type of marketing shows the lengths to which some companies will go to test the boundaries of smokefree legislation," said Mr O'Connor.

"Government and smokefree groups are constantly battling to reduce the incentives for young people to take-up smoking. This type of gift promotion can make our jobs that much harder."

Mr O'Connor says he is awaiting the legal opinion sought by the Ministry of Health on whether Imperial Tobacco's promotion breaches the Smokefree Environments Act 1990. Part of the Act's purpose is to reduce the social approval of tobacco use, particularly among young people.

Any tobacco manufacturer breaching smokefree legislation faces fines of up to tens of thousands of dollars.

"Even if this promotion falls within the law, I will be asking the Health Select Committee to consider, through the Smokefree Environments (Enhanced Protection) Amendment Bill, tightening up rules surrounding marketing promotions where gifts are sold in conjunction with tobacco products," Mr O'Connor said.

ENDS

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