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Wednesday 27 July 2022 8:55am

Researchers from the University of Otago's ASPIRE 2025 Research Centre, which carries out research to support the Smokefree 2025 goal, welcome the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill that Associate Health Minister Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall introduced to Parliament today.

The Bill introduces three key measures from the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan: denicotinising all smoked tobacco products; greatly reducing the number of tobacco retail outlets; and introducing a smokefree generation, creating a cohort of young people born on or after 1 January 2009 that may never legally be sold tobacco products.

Co-director of ASPIRE 2025 Andrew Waa commends the Bill for placing Te Tiriti o Waitangi at its heart.

“The Bill continues work begun by Māori leaders, who first proposed a tupeka kore (tobacco free) vision, and the Māori Affairs Select Committee, which recommended introducing a Smokefree Aotearoa goal.”

The Bill outlines three transformative and world-leading measures that will bring profound public health benefits.

Professor Richard Edwards, also an ASPIRE 2025 Co-director, explains that denicotinisation will make tobacco products non-addictive.

“Research studies show people who use denicotinised cigarettes smoke less, are exposed to fewer toxins, and are more likely to quit and become smokefree. Denicotinised cigarettes will mean young people who experiment with smoking are much less likely to become addicted to nicotine.

“We see denicotinisation as a powerful measure that will help free thousands of people who smoke from a toxic addiction; it will also protect future generations from smoking-related cancers and other diseases.”

Professor Janet Hoek, who also co-directs the ASPIRE 2025 Research Centre, commends proposals to reduce the number of stores selling tobacco.

“Tobacco is the only product that kills people when used as intended. It's time to recognise tobacco is not a normal consumer product and should not be sold alongside milk, bread and other staple items.”

She also welcomes plans to introduce a smokefree generation.

“No one starts smoking because they want to become addicted to a product that will kill them prematurely. Young people deserve freedom from addiction and the smokefree generation is an important step in giving them just that.”

The ASPIRE 2025 directors point to strong empirical and theoretical evidence supporting these measures.

“These measures are world-leading but they have a strong research foundation that give us confidence they will bring substantial, rapid, and sustained reductions in smoking prevalence,” Professor Hoek says.

Mr Waa notes that, since Māori leaders first called for a tupeka kore goal, more than 50,000 people have died from smoking.

“It's time to eliminate the terrible burden that tobacco use inflicts, and the great harm it causes to Māori and Pacific peoples.”

For further information, contact:

Impact on Māori and Inequities
Mr Andrew Waa
Co-director ASPIRE 2025 Research Centre
Department of Public Health
University of Otago, Wellington

Professor Richard Edwards
Co-director ASPIRE 2025 Research Centre
Department of Public Health
University of Otago, Wellington

Retail reduction and smokefree generation
Professor Janet Hoek
Co-director ASPIRE 2025 Research Centre
Department of Public Health,
University of Otago, Wellington

Lea Jones
Communications Adviser
University of Otago
Mob +64 21 279 4969

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