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New Zealanders support an end to all tobacco sales by 2020


Friday 29 January 2010 3:59pm

New research just published in the New Zealand Medical Journal shows strong support for an end to tobacco sales within 10 years, with significantly more New Zealanders agreeing to this than disagreeing. The research also shows majority support for plain (unbranded) cigarette packets, and for fewer tobacco retailers.

The support was across all ethnicities, but was particularly strong amongst Pacific interviewees. The research used weighted data from a 2008 Health Sponsorship Council national survey of 1608 people, which included 422 smokers.

One of the authors, Dr George Thomson, from the University of Otago, Wellington, says: “The surveys indicate that public support is there for major and rapid changes to the regulation of tobacco, including the end of commercial tobacco supply.”

“There’s now a need for politicians to embrace and act on the idea of a foreseeable and planned end to tobacco sales through a predicable timetable by 2020. The public wants more defined action to reduce smoking, and not a series of incremental steps,” he says.

The researchers say the scale of harm from tobacco use in New Zealand has not been matched by enough government action to advance tobacco control. They point out that despite incremental changes in tobacco control there has been relatively little reduction in smoking since 1991.

New Zealand is out of step with some other developed countries where there have been more effective policies to discourage smoking and a greater reduction in tobacco use.

The last major NZ government-led action was the Smoke-Free Environments Act, followed by graphic warnings on tobacco packs. However despite evidence of their effectiveness, there has been hesitation on a ban on retail tobacco displays, and no increase in tobacco tax above the rate of inflation.

Data for this study was supplied by the Health Sponsorship Council.

For further information contact

Dr George Thomson
Department of Public Health,
University of Otago, Wellington
Tel 64 4 918 6054

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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