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Smoking’s Collapse Sees Dairy Owners Back Government’s Business As Usual Approach

With smoking crashing to record lows, dairy owners are giving the new government a huge tick of approval as ‘business as usual’ is not only working, but quitting could be supercharged by a ‘business but better’ approach.

“We’ve seen over the top reactions for laws that had zero effect on the record falls in smoking over the past three years,” says Sunny Kaushal, Chair of the Dairy and Business Owners’ Group Incorporated.

“People say this government isn’t listening, when that sums up how we were treated under the last government as hugely compliant sellers. We asked Dr Verrall repeatedly for a meeting but were ignored despite being on the bleeding edge of selling cigarettes.

“In 2021, the last government said ‘business as usual’ policies wouldn’t see New Zealand hit Smokefree until the mid-2030s and with Māori, not until the 2060s. The 2023 NZ Health Survey says were on track for 2025 and for Māori, it could be as early as 2028.

“We’ve dug into the NZ Health Survey that came out on 14 December and it’s amazing.

“In 2019/20, did you know there were 485,000 daily smokers meaning that 11.9% of the population smoked daily? Today its 6.8% and 284,000. Amazing when after 2020, the two big anti-smoking measures have been inflation-based tax hikes and vaping.

“We have issues with tax hikes because a k.g of tobacco will break the $2,000 barrier in January. It’s a huge crime driver and is why we back vaping. It’s generally safer for us to sell and much safer for our customers.

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“The NZ daily smoking rate has fallen an amazing 43% in just three years, from 11.9% in 2019/20 to 6.8% in December 2023. It only takes two more drops averaging under 1% and we’ll hit Smokefree 2025. Incredible.

“We also know from OIA’s that not one person has been put into hospital from vaping while ACC vaping claims of just over $170,000 since 2016, are a drop in the bucket compared to $550m for cycling claims.

“In 2019/20, 30.4% of Māori smoked daily but that number has crashed 44% in just three years to be 17.1% in December 2023. Māori will take longer to get to smokefree but that’s not four decades longer as the previous government said in 2021. Try four years if average annual falls of almost 4% is sustained.

“Smokers have flocked to vaping and while that saw an increase in youth vaping, this seems to the peak of Year-10 youth vaping ASH found in 2021 and 2022 feeding into the NZ Health Survey, as Year 11 and 12 pupils. ASH said last week that we’re likely past peak youth vaping.

“The NZ Health Survey also showed that young adult vapers, those aged 18-24, have peaked as well. A 2.4% increase over 2022 is the lowest since 2019/20 and is almost a third lower than the previous years’ increase. We seem to have turned the corner. We really do.

“It’s clear the Coalition government is going for solutions that work and we’re helping as ‘business as usual’ sellers. Being highly compliant sellers, we want the new government to know we’re up for ‘business but better’. Like allowing us to actively market vapes when a smoker asks for a pack of cigarettes. Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 is on,” Mr Kaushal said.

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