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Smoking Should Be Phased Out - Researchers

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Smoking Should Be Phased Out - Researchers

The Government should begin phasing out cigarette sales "for a more predictable and faster end to smoking", Otago University researchers say.

In a presentation at the Asia Pacific Conference on Tobacco or Health in Sydney today (Friday), the university's Department of Public Health researchers suggested a government-led strategy of six-monthly 5 percent reductions in the amount of tobacco available for sale.

Pharmaceutical-grade nicotine products and home-grown tobacco for personal use would remain legal.

Researcher George Thomson said setting a clear end date for commercial tobacco sales would be one of the best incentives for quitting.

"In addition, quitting would be further encouraged by tobacco prices rising to high levels, as supply diminished," he said.

Professor Tony Blakely said eliminating smoking could add three to five years to a smoker's lifespan.

"This is a win-win, with both improving health for all and reducing health inequalities," he said.

"It's unethical to simply watch as thousands of people die each year due to smoking in New Zealand, whilst we wait for the gradual passing of the tobacco epidemic. We must put in place methods for a more predictable and faster end to smoking."

Associate Professor Nick Wilson said more expensive tobacco would not necessarily result in increased levels of smuggling, theft and illegal sales.

"This country has one of the most effective border control operations in the world and so smuggling is unlikely to undermine this strategy," he said.

"The tobacco industry will try to scare the public with concerns about tobacco-related crime during a phase-out, but appropriate control measures, combined with the decline in demand for tobacco as smokers quit, mean that these issues are likely to be minor."

About 5000 people due of smoking related illnesses each year.

Professor Richard Edwards said research and surveys showed both smokers and non-smokers supported "comprehensive actions" to curb tobacco use.

"These findings fit with clear evidence that smokers mostly wish to quit, almost universally regret starting to smoke, and hope that their children will not become smokers," he said.

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