Today is World Smokefree Day and the Cancer Society say that while New Zealand has a goal to have fewer than 5% of New Zealanders smoking by 2025 – we’re not going to get there unless we restrict the availability of tobacco.
The Cancer Society are at parliament today presenting their Smokefree campaign postcards to MP Rino Tirikatene, Chair of the Maori Affairs Select Committee.
“There is strong public support for reducing the availability of tobacco and the postcard messages demonstrate that,” says Mike Kernaghan, CE Cancer Society of New Zealand.
“We’re calling on government to include the phasing-out of tobacco availability in their action plan to achieve Smokefree New Zealand 2025.”
With around 8,000 retail outlets selling tobacco products Cancer Society want tighter restrictions on tobacco availability through legislation.
“You can buy cigarettes and tobacco in supermarkets, dairies, petrol stations, bars, and restaurants – it’s more readily available than grocery items.”
Cancer Society and international research has shown that:
- kids are more likely to smoke if tobacco outlets are near their school
- more people are likely to smoke when there are more outlets near to where they live
- and smokers are less likely to quit
The Cancer Society say it is well-documented that there is a higher density of tobacco retail outlets in low-income communities that have high smoking rates. Restrictions on retail availability, they say, is likely to create the biggest impact in communities with the highest rates of smoking, helping to reduce smoking inequalities.
“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in New Zealand. Reducing the number of places that you can buy tobacco is key to reaching our Smokefree goal,” commented Cancer Society’s Medical Director Chris Jackson.
Currently 13.8% of New Zealand adults smoke, down from 18.3% in 2006/7. The average age for starting smoking is 14.8 years. Around 5,000 people die every year from smoking related diseases. 32.5% of Māori adults and 21.8% of Pacific adults are daily smokers.