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Why The Smokefree Legislation Must Stay: Laying Out The Evidence

Public Health experts have laid out the facts showing the Government’s plan to repeal the world-leading smokefree legislation runs directly contrary to evidence and will ensure smoking continues to cost thousands of lives and millions of health care dollars.

In the latest Briefing from the Public Health Communication Centre, The Smokefree legislation is evidence-based, removing it is not, Professor Janet Hoek and co-authors from the Universities of Otago and Auckland say the walk back on Smokefree 2025 ignores robust, peer-reviewed studies in favour of an agenda that will only benefit tobacco companies.

Professor Hoek says NZ's world leading legislation has a strong evidence base that includes national and international studies.

“The new Prime Minister has repeatedly said the Government is committed to addressing the tobacco epidemic and that it will follow the evidence. We’ve laid out the evidence including systematic reviews, randomised trials, epidemiological investigations, modelling, opinion surveys, and in-depth analyses of people who smoke. The evidence clearly supports the current smokefree legislation and predicts it will drastically reduce smoking rates and bring major health gains, particularly for Māori.”

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The Briefing addresses the arguments the coalition has put forward to justify the repeal of the smokefree legislation such as concern for increased ram raids. “The logical solution to ram raids, which appear to be declining anyway, is to reduce the number of tobacco retail outlets, require these to meet rigorous security criteria, and sell only denicotinised cigarettes, which will be much less appealing. The smokefree legislation proposes exactly this process.”

Professor Hoek says using the tobacco industry’s tired and specious claim that the smokefree legislation will fuel a black market for cigarettes and tobacco is inconsistent with the evidence.

“The coalition partners often talk about freedom of choice, but the Smokefree law offers current and future New Zealanders a much greater chance of freedom from nicotine addiction and the numerous harms caused by smoking. And the evidence shows that is exactly what most people, including those who smoke, want,” says Professor Hoek.

“We are calling on the Prime Minister and Health Minister to show real leadership, recognise the evidence, and retain the smokefree laws as they stand.”

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