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'New SmokeFree legislation has respiratory specialists dreaming of a brighter future'

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

"Every now and again a piece of legislation comes along that has the potential to really impact the future health of our people for the better. A piece of legislation that takes a stand. A piece of legislation that will be referred to for generations to come as our turning point. In our opinion, this is it,"

says Dr Stuart Jones, Respiratory Specialist and spokesperson for The Thoracic Society of Australian and New Zealand (TSANZ), the professional body representing respiratory health and research professionals.

TSANZ congratulates Minister Verrall for devising an innovative, world-leading action-plan capable of delivering success in our battle to be SmokeFree. Whist previous governments have highlighted a need for SmokeFree legislation, Minister Verrall has boldly given the plan teeth. The SmokeFree 2025 proposal is the piece of legislation that will allow us to dream of a brighter, healthier future.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation New Zealand (ARFNZ) also fully supports the Government’s efforts to define an Action Plan for Smokefree 2025. Letitia Harding, Chief Executive of ARFNZ, states: "Since the adoption of the Smokefree 2025 goal in 2011, there has not been such a detailed action plan setting out how exactly this goal will be achieved. ARFNZ is pleased that the Government has now committed to such a plan, including some bold measures that need to be taken in order to reach the Smokefree 2025 goal."

"Every day my patients remind me of the pain and destruction to life caused by tobacco smoking," continues Dr Stuart Jones. "Cigarettes have destroyed the health of our Māori and Pacific Peoples for too long, it’s time we took real action to rid ourselves of this plague."

Professor Richard Edwards, co-director of the ASPIRE 2025 Research Centre and Co-Director of the Whakahā o te Pā Harakeke research programme, adds: "We know that almost nobody starts smoking after the age of 25, and that most people who smoke wish they had never started. This suggests that at younger ages people do not enter into smoking with informed consent. With this legislation in place, we have the ability restrict access to those vulnerable age groups much more effectively."

Reducing the number of outlets allowed to sell cigarettes and getting them out of general stores, supermarkets and petrol stations is a key policy. Reducing the ease with which people can purchase will have a significant impact, not only on stopping people from picking up smoking, but also in removing the temptation for those who have quit. The introduction of specialist stores will then make it easier to enforce age restricted purchasing.

The benefits of the proposed ‘SmokeFree generation policy’, which will prohibit the supply of tobacco products to our children and young people, cannot be underestimated. This legislation presents a very real opportunity to rapidly reduce smoking prevalence among young people, not only protecting them from the cycle of lifelong addiction, but also massively benefiting respiratory health more widely.

One of the key policies being suggested is legislation focused on the appeal and addictiveness of cigarettes. Reducing the nicotine content and palatability of cigarettes will make it far easier for people to kick the habit and render having another smoke a choice, rather than being compelled by the cycle of addiction.

The proposed legislation will be the focus of intense lobbying by those who support the tobacco industry, but the ARFNZ and TSANZ encourage those who are passionate about a healthier future, and particularly those who are tired of seeing health inequalities, to get behind these bold steps. Together, let us step forward to a brighter, healthier future.

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