Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) is backing the comprehensive legislation proposed in the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan released today.
ARPHS Medical Officer of Health Dr Nick Eichler says reducing the availability of a product that kills over half of its users is one of the most important public health measures the government can take.
“We have not previously regulated who can sell cigarettes and where they can be sold. A licensing approach to the supply of tobacco, and limiting the number of sellers, is the logical next step to achieve a Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 goal,” he says.
ARPHS will be supporting all the proposals in its submission for the Plan’s deadline on World Smokefree Day. Proposals to reduce the availability and appeal of tobacco including significantly removing the nicotine in cigarettes will help the 70 percent of people who have already tried to stop smoking.
“By removing the addictive element in cigarettes, people who smoke will have greater ability to quit, especially if they see it less often in their neighbourhoods.
“If you are trying to give up or reduce smoking, having tobacco at the counter in every dairy, bottle-shop, supermarket and petrol station makes it virtually impossible,” he says.
There are 1,800 retailers in Auckland, with one for every 80 people who smoke.
“ARPHS has surveyed retailers and found that they expected government restrictions, but wanted these to apply fairly to everyone selling these products,” he says.
Not only is tobacco extremely harmful to health, but it also has significant financial impacts, especially for Maori, Pacific and poorer communities.
Implementing a comprehensive action plan will provide people who smoke the greatest possible support. ARPHS supports the strong push to strengthen Māori governance in tobacco control as the group most affected by tobacco.
“Rather than the industry who profits from this pain, we all have to pay the price of tobacco harm, in hospital admissions, early deaths, fires, and in pollution.
“This plan will save future generations from smoking, our young people will never experience the harm of addiction,” Dr Eichler says.
While most youth in New Zealand are smokefree with 3% of 15 to 17 year-olds currently smoking (this is down from 14% in 2006/07), the proposals will reinforce this major social change.
“The benefits of this courageous plan far outweigh the potential impact to small retailers. It shows that the government is serious about leading the world in protecting New Zealanders’ health,” Dr Eichler says.
Submissions close 5.00 pm, Monday 31 May 2021 – Find out how to your say here.