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Maori MPs Call For Tobacco Crackdown

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Maori MPs Call For Tobacco Crackdown

Wellington, NZPA - The Maori Affairs select committee inquiry report into the tobacco industry, released this morning, is already provoking strong responses.

The committee aims to make New Zealand smokefree by 2025.

It wants to ban tobacco displays in shops, only selling cigarettes and loose tobacco in plain packaging, and outlaw smoking in cars and public places.

It recommends that tobacco companies should pay for addiction treatment such as nicotine patches and that they be sold everywhere tobacco is sold.

New Zealand's control policy has previously focused on smokers' tobacco rather than the tobacco industry, the report said.

"By increasing regulations regarding the supply of tobacco, we believe the Government can reduce the death, illness, and harm tobacco causes in New Zealand society."

Banning tobacco displays and covert marketing and requiring plain packaging would help reduce the number of young people enticed to try smoking, the committee said.

"We do not agree that revenue from cigarettes will make or break a small, independent retailer... the cost of banning displays would be borne by retailers and adversely affect the tobacco industry, which would lose a major marketing opportunity."

The report also suggested a licensing system for retailers who sell tobacco products.

As for requiring tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging, Australia has announced a similar requirement from 2012.

Up to 85 percent of tobacco sold in New Zealand was packaged in Australia which would make the change relatively easy, the report said.

The committee commended the passing of legislation earlier this year to increase the excise tax on tobacco products and recommended further incremental tax increases.

"Many academics we heard from told us that lower socio-economic groups are the most price sensitive, and are therefore the most likely to be responsive to price changes."

Prime Minister John Key said yesterday it would be extremely difficult to make New Zealand smokefree by 2025.

He said the Government acknowledged the harm caused by smoking which was why it had increased tax on tobacco products.

The anti-smoking lobby group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said it was delighted with the select committee's recommendations.

Association of Community Retailers (ACR) spokesman Richard Green said a ban on tobacco displays in retail outlets would increase security risks in small shops and impose costs on them.

Retailers also said the Government's price rise of tobacco products in April this year led to increased violent robberies of small dairies and convenience stores.

"Limiting supply will only open up our country to a huge black market and organised crime," Mr Green said.

The ACR has denied accusations from media commentators that it is funded by the tobacco industry.

 

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