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Mayor Wallace – Cheerleader for the tobacco industry?

Mayor Wallace – Cheerleader for the tobacco industry?

The Hutt City Mayor Ray Wallace appears to be playing the dutiful politician as he cuts the ribbon to open Imperial Tobacco’s upgraded factory in Petone. The Mayor is almost verging on being a cheerleader for a global company that contributes to hundreds of deaths each year in New Zealand and plans to directly export its product offshore.

“It is unbelievably naive for anyone in local government, let alone a Mayor, to be putting an industry that knowingly kills for a profit into a category that dismisses the harsh reality of a product that has been purposely designed to addict and kill its users as intended by that manufacturer. It is not a cuddly toy for goodness sake.” states public health advocate Shane Bradbrook – Director of Te Ao Hurihuri.

Two things stand out with comments made by the good Mayor to the media. Firstly that such a factory is a real economic bonus for the Hutt Valley and secondly that smoking is merely a personal choice.

“Sure there are jobs created but keep in mind that the tobacco industry kills more people than it has ever employed unless you count funeral services.” says Mr Bradbrook. “I’m sure the cigarettes being exported to Australian users will also help gravediggers there as well.”

Mayor Wallace commentary on smoking being a personal choice is also short on reality. This is a product that the maker aims to addict the end user with no regard to personal choice.

“Personal choice is diminished soon after one starts to smoke. It is a product that is purposefully engineered to addict the user. Therein lays the critical difference when this personal choice argument is promulgated – it is an addiction not a choice. Talk to smokers that are trying to quit and they will tell you about the struggles they have had to exert some personal choice in battling this addiction.” continue Mr Bradbrook.

As New Zealand heads towards the Government goal of being a smokefree nation by 2025 it is somewhat incongruous to see a local Government politician supporting an industry that has done nothing of any positive benefit to the public and its customers. The sooner the sun sets on this industry the better.
ends

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