08 December 2010

The Maori Affairs Select Committee’s tobacco report, which has been tabled in parliament today, will have a dramatic effect on improving public health if its recommendations are implemented into law, says the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA).

The highest priority recommendations, such as the removal of tobacco retail displays and the plain packaging of products are crucial towards reducing smoking rates says NZMA Deputy Chair Dr Paul Ockelford. “While it’s important to promote anti-smoking messages to the public and inform them of the health consequences of smoking, we also need an environment that will be conducive and supportive towards quitting smoking.”

“Research has shown that retail tobacco displays influence the uptake of smoking among adolescents and also make it harder for smokers to quit.”

Dr Ockelford says that in Britain there is a similar push by doctors with the British Medical Association urging the Government to put an end to tobacco retail displays.

“We’ve made some good progress this year, including the tax increases on tobacco which have led to more people accessing quit services. The Government now needs to continue to build on the progress it has made.”

“Achieving the vision of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025 needs to be at the forefront of what drives our tobacco policies. The recommendations of the Maori Affairs Select Committee report, based on extensive research and consultation, provides an excellent opportunity to achieve this vision.”