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Tomorrow is World COPD Day and Kiwis can do better

Tomorrow is World COPD* Day and Kiwis can do so much better

*(COPD is an umbrella term covering emphysema and chronic bronchitis among other respiratory conditions and stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It is New Zealand’s fourth biggest killer after cancer, heart disease and stroke).

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation said today that the new Government has an opportunity to do much better for New Zealanders’ respiratory health through a few simple changes that would also save taxpayers a huge amount of money.

Speaking on the eve of World COPD Day, Foundation Executive Director Jane Patterson congratulated Prime Minister-elect John Key on his election win and said his Government had an historic opportunity to put in place a number of easy and effective preventative health measures to reduce COPD, asthma and other respiratory conditions. Around one in every seven New Zealanders over the age of 45 has COPD and about one in four Kiwi kids has asthma.

“This Government has a fresh mandate to make changes that could bring about intergenerational change in New Zealanders’ respiratory health, and of course if we’re not breathing well, we’re in a lot of trouble,” Jane said.

“Mr Key’s Government can move to ban tobacco displays as they have in Canada and Iceland. Legislatures around the world are examining this option. These ‘power walls’ as the cigarette promoters call them, normalise cigarettes for children and encourage people trying to quit to take cigarettes up again. And, the vast majority of people with emphysema for example, the most common COPD, smoke or previously smoked.

“Mr Key’s Government could also build on the previous Government’s success with providing subsidies to help retrofit old homes, and make houses warmer and healthier,” she said.

“Working through these two things would enhance New Zealanders’ respiratory well-being. Taxpayers could save millions because in addition to the acute social costs, the health system spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually on respiratory illness.”

The former government considered banning retail tobacco displays. Bans exist in Canada, Thailand and Iceland.

“This ban, which would keep cigarette promotion out of sight of our kids and everyone trying to give up this pernicious addiction, is an easy potential win for the new Government and for New Zealanders. This is not just pressure groups wanting a ban; the mums and dads of New Zealand and even smokers themselves, recent research has shown, want retail tobacco displays gone,” Jane said.

The Emissions Trading Scheme that the Labour-led administration was committed to and the Key Government will review includes a 15-year $1 billion plan to insulate Kiwi homes, which the Green Party championed.

ENDS

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