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Speech : Smokefree Environments - Tariana Turia

Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health


Thursday 14 July 2011; 3.10pm
Speech
Smokefree Environments (Controls and Enforcements) Amendment Bill;
Third reading; Hon Tariana Turia
Thursday 14 July 2011

Tena koutou katoa

I move, that the Smoke-free Environments (Controls and Enforcement) Amendment Bill be now read a third time.

This Parliament can be proud of the culture of change we are advancing through this Smokefree Environments (Controls and Enforcements) Amendment Bill.

New Zealand has made rapid progress in reducing smoking rates, and this Bill is another step in that journey.

During the course of debate around this bill we have heard mention of the brave cause champions and advocates who have led the charge in tobacco control.

First and foremost I pay my tribute to groups such as Aukati Kai Paipa; Te Hotu Manawa Maori; Action on Smoking and Health; the Smokefree Coalition / Te Ohu Auahi Kore; the Smokefree Nurses Aotearoa; the Asthma Foundation; the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand; the Quit Group; Centre for Tobacco Control Research; Te Ohu Rata o Aotearoa – Maori Medical Practitioners; the Department of Public Health at Otago University; End Smoking NZ; the Public Health Association; the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners; Whakauae Research Services and many other individuals and organizations, and if I have missed anyone out by naming this list, I apologise to you today.

It is vitally important that today’s achievement is also recognized as a milestone that has resulted out of the efforts of so many people dedicated to the cause of eliminating tobacco out of Aotearoa.

In this House, there are also advocates and activists who have taken up the cause of tobacco reform.

The gestation of the Smokefree Environments Bill has involved some key players and history makers. They include the Rt Hon Helen Clark, Tukoroirangi Morgan, Judy Keall, Stevie Chadwick; and over this last year it has been ably assisted by the commitment of Dr Paul Hutchison as chair of the Health Select Committee.

The broader context of tobacco reform has of course received heightened awareness through the impact of the Inquiry into the tobacco industry pioneered by the Maori Affairs Committee, and I record my tributes today, to the leadership of Hone Harawira, Tau Henare as the Chair, and in fact all of the members of that committee who have taken up the call to break the cycle of smoking uptake.

I sincerely appreciate the leadership of the Prime Minister and the support of Health Minister Tony Ryall, in enabling this legislation to be passed during the course of this Parliament; for being willing to step up to the challenge that future generations of New Zealanders will be protected from exposure to tobacco products, and will enjoy Smokefree lives

The progress we have achieved on this Smokefree Environments (Controls and Enforcements) Bill 2010 has been so much easier because of the support right across the House. Anyone who listened during the committee stages of the Bill, would have heard how the impact of the 150 submissions received by the Health Committee had underscored the need to legislate to achieve the Vision of a tobacco free Aotearoa by 2025.

But they would have also seen evidence of the activist’s catch-cry – the personal is political.

How could it be any different? Almost every single one of us in this Chamber knows the reality that more than one in five New Zealanders smoke tobacco regularly.

Many of us know the devastating consequences of tobacco smoking as a leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand.

And we know in our lived experiences that Maori and Pasifika people bear a disproportionate burden of tobacco addiction.

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners outlined the impact of smoking on the quality of life through conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and cancer of the mouth, breast, bladder, throat, stomach and on and on.

One of the most poignant submissions made during the course of this bill was from Student ASH – a group of medical students at University of Auckland, and I want to quote from their submission.

“Through the course of our training we see the tragic and preventable harm which smoking causes repeated over and over again in the patients we get to know. It is terrible to see patients who are in hospital as a result of their lifelong addiction to cigarettes, leave their bed and go outside the hospital to smoke. Many patients we meet, even in the end stages of their lives, can not break the very addiction which is killing them”.

So today I applaud the House for having the courage to continue to work together to address smoking harm.

I am particularly mindful of the korero that was shared last night by Louisa Wall, in reminding us to keep the needs of our babies uppermost in placing tobacco retail displays out of sight and out of mind.

This Bill is driven by the need to reduce tobacco uptake, particularly amongst young people, and to help smokers to quit. It does this by prohibiting retail displays of tobacco products, increasing controls on tobacco and facilitating the enforcement of tobacco controls.

In introducing this legislation, I was motivated by the knowledge that children and adolescents are particularly susceptible to the lure of the images adorning tobacco displays such as colouring and the graphics used on cigarette packages.

In New Zealand the average age that 15-19 year olds have their first cigarette is 13.3 years of age. We know also that half of people under 18 who smoke have tried to quit and two thirds regret ever starting.

A Cancer Society survey run in 2008 revealed that 45% of New Zealanders answering that poll agreed that tobacco displays in retail areas make quitting harder.

So this legislation is about making a conscious intervention in the cycle of see-try-buy. The Amendment Bill aims to remove tobacco displays from outlets and also include harsher penalties.

This Bill will make the marketing of tobacco products a much more difficult proposition for the tobacco industry. The industry will no longer be able to display tobacco products at the local dairy or include tobacco related words in their shop signage.

These measures will also aid those trying to quit by removing some of the temptation to make impulse purchases.

As a result of this legislation, we will see an end to the type of covert sponsorship arrangements such as the exclusive supply arrangements at events like outdoor music festivals.

The Bill has increased the penalties for selling tobacco products to children and young people (from $2000 to $5000 for an individual and up to $10 000 for a business).

It also enables these offences to be dealt with by infringement notices rather than costly and time consuming prosecutions through the Courts.

Mr Speaker, I believe this legislation represents an honourable attempt by the Government to support the concerted efforts in homes and workplaces throughout our land, to instil pride in ourselves in becoming tobacco free.

And I want to make a special mention of the officials who have aided the select committee process, and advised and guided me every step of the way.

This legislation is also the result of their expertise, their hard work and professionalism. I congratulate the advisors right across the Ministry of Health, but particularly the tobacco team, who have provided me with confidence that we are making the difference we need.

Ultimately we have adopted a position where the public health arguments for tobacco control outweigh the tobacco company interests.

Our retail display legislation will stop tobacco products and brand marketing in just about every dairy, supermarket and petrol station in the land.

Plain packaging goes the next step, and will put an end to vicarious marketing of tobacco in other settings like the kitchen table in a smoker’s house.

Our next step, therefore, is to introduce a comprehensive plain packaging legislation; to seriously regulate and control this product in a way commensurate with the devastating harm it continues to cause.

Mr Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported this legislation, for the decision they have made to create a stronger and healthier future for all New Zealanders. I commend this bill to the House.

ENDS

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