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Survey Shows Public Back Smokefree Law And The Govt Has No Mandate For Repeal

A survey of New Zealanders shows a majority want to retain our world-leading Smokefree law - including denicotisation of cigarettes, a reduction in retailers and ending sales of cigarettes to the next generation.

The Talbot Mills research, commissioned by Health Coalition Aotearoa (HCA) and University of Otago tobacco research group ASPIRE, showed 67 per cent of survey participants support the measures.

Of those surveyed, 44 per cent said they "strongly support keeping the smokefree laws" and 23 per cent said they "support keeping these smoke-free laws".

HCA co-chair Professor Boyd Swinburn said the survey confirms the public is right behind health groups that strongly oppose the planned repeal.

"Repealing this law is just not supported. There’s no mandate from the public. The public are not stupid, they know these laws are good for the country, the economy and will save lives."

When broken down by individual measures support was strongest for reducing the amount of nicotine allowed in cigarettes (denicotisation), with 77 per cent in favour.

For reducing retailers, the vast majority were in support - with 68 per cent in favour.

Creating a smoke-free generation by preventing anyone born after January 1, 2009 from ever buying cigarettes or tobacco was similarly backed by participants, with 65 per cent in support.

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A breakdown of responses by political party affiliation shows National supporters strongly in favour of keeping the laws, with 80 per cent support for denicotisation, 66 per cent for reducing retailers and 59 per cent for a smoke-free generation.

Swinburn implored Prime Minister Christopher Luxon to listen to the public and his own constituents - and not the tobacco industry, which only wanted to perpetuate sales of its product at the expense of health and lives.

"This is a very strong message for Christopher Luxon to reflect on his role as leader - is this the legacy he wants as Prime Minister, is this the legacy National wants?"

The nation-wide online survey sample was 755 nationally representative respondents in New Zealand aged 18-years of age and over. The survey was conducted between December 6-12, 2023.

The survey results come as a petition to stop the repeal of the Smokefree law has gained over 45,000 signatures and rallies in Wellington and Auckland were held, including handing-over of the petition at Parliament.

The petition will be formally presented at the Parliament grounds on Wednesday, December 13, from 1 pm to 2 pm. Te Roopu Tupeka Kore, alongside Tala Pasifika and rangatahi, will hand over the petition to Te Pati Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. The organisers stress the importance of a response to the petition from Minister Shane Reti.

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