University of Otago experts welcome a new smokefree legislation which they say will bring profound health benefits to Aotearoa.
Otago's ASPIRE Centre Co-Directors Andrew Waa, Richard Edwards and Janet Hoek believe the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Act, which was passed by Parliament last night, heralds a new era in smokefree policy.
The Act introduces four core measures that will greatly reduce smoking prevalence.
Denicotinisation will minimise the addictiveness of smoked tobacco products while two supply-focused measures will reduce the easy availability of tobacco products and introduce a smokefree generation to protect young people from the harms smoking imposes.
The fourth key measure facilitates Māori and Pacific leadership in decision making, thus promoting community trust and engagement.
Senior Research Fellow Andrew Waa says the Act refreshes New Zealand's approach to smokefree policy.
“Its focus on changing tobacco products and their accessibility gives us a realistic prospect of achieving the Smokefree 2025 goal,” Senior Research Fellow Waa says.
“Māori leaders have long called for visionary measures to change how easily tobacco addicts people and reframe it as a toxic product. They have also prioritised protecting rangatahi.”
Professor Edwards describes denicotinisation as a game-changing measure.
“Tobacco companies have refined their products so they are exquisitely addictive and difficult to quit,” he says.
“This measure will make it much easier for people to quit while protecting young people from addiction.”
Professor Hoek welcomes the Act's focus on protection.
“For too long, we have accepted tobacco as a normal consumer product when it is anything but normal,” she says.
“The research evidence shows that reducing tobacco availability decreases youth smoking and makes it easier for people who do smoke to quit.”
She also applauds the smokefree generation measure.
“Smoking prevalence rises as youth become young adults and we continue to see smoking impose a much higher burden on Māori and Pacific young adults.
“Creating a smokefree generation will give all rangatahi the opportunity to enjoy a healthy, productive life.”
While there is still much work to be done to develop regulations implementing these world-leading measures, the ASPIRE co-directors believe momentum towards the Smokefree 2025 goal is becoming unstoppable.
They note the growing international interest in Aotearoa's policies, which they believe will catalyse global change.
Mr Waa notes: “We have strong research evidence and logic supporting denicotinisation, retail reductions and the smokefree generation.”
“We hope implementation of these measures occurs rapidly so we can, finally, end the illness and death smoking inflicts on communities throughout Aotearoa.”
For more information please contact:
Smoking inequities and implications for Māori:
Senior Research Fellow Andrew Waa
Professor Richard Edwards
Retail reduction and smokefree generation:
Professor Janet Hoek