Next steps in tobacco control
With tobacco products disappearing out of sight in retail outlets the focus of smokefree initiatives now shifts to a consultation process around the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco, the single biggest cause of preventable death and disease.
Porirua City Council has adopted a policy making all council playgrounds and sports fields smoke free. Credit: Regional Public Health.
From July 23 retailers will have to ensure that tobacco products are not visible to the public, either from the inside or the outside of a premise. A fine of up to $10,000 exists for breaching the new law.
Read more about the Guidelines for Implementing the Prohibition on the Display of Tobacco Products.
Removing tobacco from public view is an important step to prevent the promotion of tobacco products and close a gap in the otherwise comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising.
The Government is also considering other steps to stop the promotion of tobacco products including the introduction of plain packaging. Australia has already decided to introduce plain packaging from December this year which will remove tobacco company branding and replace it with larger hard-hitting images featuring the tragic consequences of smoking.
Find out more about the proposal to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products and how to take part in the consultation.
Research shows tobacco control initiatives, including the introduction of smokefree workplace laws in 2003, are impacting on smokers. The prevalence of smoking in New Zealand was 35% in 1983. Today it is under 18%.
However around 5000 New Zealanders still die each year from illnesses directly related to tobacco-use with higher rates of smoking and subsequent ill-health among Māori and Pacific.
Efforts to reduce tobacco use will be further enhanced with the New Zealand Government committing to a vision of Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025.
A new $20 million innovation fund has been provided in this year’s Budget to fund programmes that help create smokefree environments. Over the next four years the Pathway to Smoke-Free 2025 will invest in the design and development of innovative efforts to reduce the harm and costs of smoking.
Tobacco excise taxes will also increase by 10 per cent a year over the next four years. Research shows price increases drive tobacco sales down with company returns showing consumption fell by 14 per cent from 2009 to 2011 on the heel of three tobacco tax increases.
The Ministry has a number of key partners in tobacco control. These include smoking cessation services such as Quitline, District Health Boards (DHBs), Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) and GP practices.
Some DHB hospitals have gone entirely smokefree, including all campus grounds as they and PHOs work towards achieving the Government’s Health Target of providing advice and support for smokers to quit.
The Better Help for Smokers to Quit Health Target led to more than 129,000 patients receiving brief advice to quit smoking from their local GP, nurse or other health professional last year. At the same time nearly 114,300 patients received the same advice and support to quit during hospital visits.
DHB smokefree officers are also working with councils and community organisations to increase smokefree environments, including policies banning smoking in parks, playgrounds and sports grounds.