A leaked copy of the Maori Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into the tobacco industry reveals a push for New Zealand to be smokefree by 2025.
The report is due out tomorrow, but excerpts leaked to ONE News
show radical plans to cut smoking rates in half over the next 10
years and make New Zealand a smoke-free nation within 15
The Maori Affairs Select Committee has undertaken months of hearings into the state of the tobacco industry.
ONE News' political editor Guyon Espiner said tonight sources have told him radical measures will be recommended, including banning the display of all tobacco products in retail outlets; putting all cigarette and roll your own tobacco in plain packaging and extending places in which you cannot smoke to cars and other public places.
Recommendations are also believed to include getting the tobacco industry to fund stop smoking measures such as quit programmes and smoking cessation drugs.
As well, the report says the government should reduced the
amount of tobacco imported into New Zealand, and what does get in
should have an increase in excise tax on it.
Prime Minister John Key said getting New Zealand to be smoke free within 15 years would, however, be a huge ask.
The recommendations are not binding on the government, and Key was cautious when reporters asked him about it.
"It would be extremely difficult," he said in response to questions about making New Zealand smokefree by 2025.
"The good news is less people are smoking and there is greater awareness of the damage that you can do to your health."
The government has already increased the price of tobacco since the last election, and more price rises are in the pipeline.
"We know that young people particularly are more likely to be put off smoking if the price of cigarettes rises," Key said.
The government was worried about young people smoking, he said, and that was why the price had been increased.
"Nothing that you do is more predictable to cause damage to your health than smoking," he said.
Around 20% of people in New Zealand smoke, although among Maori the figure is closer to 40%. In December 2004, New Zealand became the third country in the world to make all indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants, smokefree.
Last week, Maori Party Mp Hone Harawira told TV ONE's Close that the report was expected to be far-reaching and would gain world-wide publicity.
"We will be the first western government to recommend some of the things proposed," he said.
"Within the report are enough options for Tariana Turia ( Maori Party co-leader) to take serious steps to put a dent in the industry and impact the lives of millions of New Zealanders."
He said recommendations made by submitters include increasing tobacco taxes, banning retail displays and attractive, colourful packaging and regulating tobacco imports.
Harawira told Close Up he hoped the proposals will "lead to a smoke free Aotearoa."
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