Smokefree advocates from the Canterbury West Coast region have written to the Minister of Health Hon Dr David Clark outlining the steps required to achieve a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025.
The letter was an outcome of a seminar held in Christchurch on Thursday at which leading University of Otago researchers and smokefree groups discussed the essential actions required to achieve a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025.
Professor Richard Edwards from the University of Otago Wellington, one of the authors of a recent report setting out a roadmap to 2025, says a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025 is doable.
“Progress towards the Smokefree Aotearoa goal has stalled in recent years but it’s still very achievable. There is a clear set of actions that need to be put in place to achieve the goal, but the main thing we need is the political courage to tackle one of the biggest killers in New Zealand,” says Prof Edwards.
“What’s needed now, more than anything, is leadership,” says Prof Edwards. “We’re encouraged by the Minister’s previous comments supporting the goal, and look forward to working with him to make it a reality.”
Prof Edwards says some of the key actions required to achieve the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 goal include proceeding with the plans to introduce standardized packaging and enhanced pictorial warnings, making nicotine-containing e-cigarettes more widely available, and implementing a range of other measures to make cigarettes less available, less affordable and less appealing. These include:
Dramatically reducing the number of retail outlets that sell tobacco
Continuing to increase tobacco tax and introducing a minimum retail price for tobacco products
Removing additives that make tobacco products more palatable and appealing to young people
Greatly intensifying media campaigns encouraging and supporting smokers to quit and discouraging young people from starting
Extending smokefree environment legislation to include specific outdoor areas and vehicles carrying children.
Better targeting of smoking cessation advice and support to reach priority groups, particularly Māori and Pacific smokers
The full list of actions required to achieve the Smokefree 2025 goal are included in the ‘Achieving Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025 Plan’ which can be accessed at https://aspire2025.org.nz/hot-topics/smokefree-action-plan/
Jane Cartwright, Chair of Smokefree Canterbury, says the Plan provides a comprehensive list of the evidence-based actions required to make New Zealand smokefree.
“The actions in the Plan provide a roadmap to get us to where we need to go. We all have a role to play, and by working collaboratively, with strong Government leadership, we can create a smokefree future,” says Mrs. Cartwright.
Overall smoking rates in New Zealand continue to fall, however for some priority groups such as Maori and Pacific, smoking remains disproportionately high.
The letter to the Minister of Health, signed by the chairs of Smokefree Canterbury, Smokefree Mid Canterbury, and the West Coast Tobacco Free Coalition, is attached