03 March 2009

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) has called on the Government to show its commitment to children's health by banning the retail display of tobacco products.

"The NZMA wants New Zealand to be a world leader in tackling the harm caused by smoking," said NZMA Chair Dr Peter Foley. "Yet, at the moment, children can walk into a dairy and see cigarettes for sale alongside other products. This gives the false impression that tobacco is a normal everyday item.

"We hope that in time the Government will revisit its decision to not support a ban."

In a submission to the Ministry of Health last year the NZMA strongly supported the call for a total ban on the retail display of tobacco products. The Health Select Committee supported a ban, but the National Government has decided not to support a ban at this time.

This Government has achieved much to improve health in its first 100 days in office. This is another area where it can make a difference for health, particularly of our young people by not encouraging them to start smoking," Dr Foley said.

"Stopping the tobacco industry from advertising its products at point of sale is a vital step towards ensuring that the next generation of young New Zealanders don’t get hooked on an addictive product which kills half of its long-term users."

Around 4500 deaths a year in New Zealand are directly caused by tobacco use.