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Tobacco Report Praised For Promoting Maori Smokefree Goals

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tobacco Report Praised For Promoting Maori Smokefree Goals

The Maori Affairs Select Committee's final report on tobacco is a landmark in smokefree initiatives, according to the Public Health Association (PHA).

The Select Committee's report on its inquiry into the tobacco industry and the consequences of tobacco use for Maori was released today. Its recommendations underscore a strategy to halve smoking rates by 2015, as the first step towards a smokefree New Zealand by 2025.

PHA Strategic Advisor (Maori Public Health) Keriata Stuart said the report not only showed the tragic toll tobacco has taken on Maori, but sets a clear path to reduce tobacco-related harm.

"The Select Committee has clearly understood that to halve tobacco use New Zealand needs to tackle the problems on all fronts," says Ms Stuart.

"Government needs to act to stop tobacco marketing, reduce tobacco supply - especially to our rangatahi - continue campaigns to de-normalise smoking in Maori communities, and increase cessation support."

Ms Stuart said that quit campaigns have to be well targeted towards people needing them most, especially Maori, 45 percent of whom smoke - more than double the rate for the rest of the population.

The PHA praised the Select Committee's call for targeted quit-smoking services supporting Maori women, and particularly for women in pregnancy.

"This will be welcome news for the many smokefree advocates and Maori health groups. These services are effective in supporting wahine to stop smoking, which benefits them, their tamariki, and their whanau."

The PHA has also called for quit-smoking services aimed at rangatahi and young adults.

However, the PHA says that a national plan to halve tobacco use will need strong government support and will need to be well funded. Government also needs to monitor progress and report it back to the people.

"Halving smoking rates among Maori by 2015 will be particularly challenging, so developing a comprehensive action plan designed specifically by Maori for Maori will be necessary."

Ms Stuart said Maori expertise will be essential to the national Tobacco Control Authority, which the Select Committee recommends be established to ensure future tobacco control activities are correctly focused.

Ms Stuart congratulated the Select Committee for its work.

"The whakatauki 'Whaia te iti kahurangi', tells us to strive for that which is most precious, and not to be deterred by obstacles. The Select Committee's report does that. It holds the tobacco industry to account, and sets a clear vision for our future wellbeing."

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