March 19, 2018
Review planned of tobacco policy effectiveness
The Ministry of Health intends to look at whether tax-driven price rises on tobacco correlates with crime.
Opponents of the increasing impediments to the sale of tobacco have tried to link dairy robberies with the price rise.
But tobacco control advocacy group Hapai Te Hauora says the review is a chance to assess existing policies, their effectiveness for Maori and Pacific people and how tobacco tax correlates with outcomes like crime and financial loss.
Chief executive Lance Norman says while Hapai acknowledges the inequities in smoking for Maori and Pasifika, its mahi is also telling it that for many, the unaffordability of smoking is motivating whanau to quit.
The excise tax increases are part of the supply reduction policies adopted by the previous Government when it adopted the Smokefree 2025 goal in 2011.
In spite of an overall population decrease, about 35 percent of Maori and 24 percent of Pacifica adults currently smoke.
Mr Norman says making cigarettes unaffordable is influential in stopping new users.
Hapai Te Hauora has previously raised concerns about New Zealand's ability to reach the Smokefree 2025 goal which aims to have smoking rates at less than 5 percent of the population.
"As an organisation, Hapai advocate for supply reduction policies, including excise taxes. We are compassionate towards those struggling with the financial burdens of smoking and are open to tweaking current policy settings for example, the magnitude of tax increases. However, we still need to focus on preventing uptake and unaffordable pricing is influential in this," Mr Norman says.
"Coupling this with decreasing the excessive amount of places tobacco can be brought, at every corner, petrol station and supermarket, we will be able to make the progress needed to reach Smokefree 2025."
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