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Govt Gets Cracking On Tobacco Reform

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tariana Turia
Tariana Turia

Cabinet has given the green light to tobacco reforms, including removing displays in shops and providing for instant fines for those caught selling to minors.

The Maori affairs select committee only yesterday tabled a report with recommendations including strict measures aimed at halving smoking by 2015 and turning New Zealand into a smoke-free nation by 2025, but aspects of it, including banning displays, have been under consideration since March.

Associate health minister Tariana Turia said Cabinet announced today that it was backing a package of increased control measures focused on the retail environment including:

* prohibiting any visible display of tobacco products for sale;

* tighter legislation around the display of trading names for tobacco outlets;

* enabling smokefree enforcement officers to issue instant infringement fines to those selling tobacco products to people under the age of 18;

* clarifying that any contracts and agreements covering trade rebates and discounts for selling tobacco which are inconsistent with the Smokefree Environments Act are legally void.

The changes will be brought in by amendments to the Smokefree Environments Act, with a bill set to be introduced to Parliament before the end of the year and enforced next year.

Mrs Turia said tobacco cast a "long shadow of death and disease that has touched almost every household in New Zealand".

"This Government is serious about reducing the threat to the lives of New Zealanders, and this is another strong step in realising this commitment."

She said there were still plenty more steps to take, but was now more confident than ever of New Zealand eventually becoming a tobacco-free nation.

The select committee wanted the Government to reduce the amount of tobacco imported, force tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging, extend smoke-free areas to vehicles, ban vending machines and make tobacco companies fund smoking cessation products.

The Government has 90 working days to respond to its recommendations.

Parliament went into urgency in April, following a push by Mrs Turia, to bring in legislation raising excise tax on tobacco, which led to the price of a packet of cigarettes rising 10 percent, and roll-your-own tobacco rising 14 percent overnight.

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