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Cheap Roll-Your-Owns Keep Māori Smokers Hooked

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Cheap Roll-Your-Owns Keep Māori Smokers Hooked

5 July 2009 - Cheap roll-your-own cigarettes are keeping Māori hooked on smoking.

Shane Kawenata Bradbrook, Director of Te Reo Marama (a Māori tobacco-free organisation), says Māori are big smokers of roll-your-owns, which are cheaper than tailor-made cigarettes, but just as deadly. He is calling on the Government to increase tax on loose tobacco.

"Roll-your-own cigarettes are no safer than tailor-made cigarettes and can be more harmful. Instead of quitting because smoking is too expensive, Māori - who are often on a lower income - switch to the cheaper rollies, and keep smoking them. By rolling thinner cigarettes, you can get more of them. How does this encourage the group that has the highest smoking rates to quit?

"Putting up the price of tobacco is a very effective way of encouraging smokers to quit. We call on the Government to increase the tax on loose tobacco, so that roll-your-own cigarettes are at the very least the same price as tailor-mades.

"In New Zealand, roll-your-owns account for about 30 percent of the tobacco smoked - because they're cheaper. But what about the cost to whānau, iwi and the wider community of digging a hole in the ground and burying a loved one?"

Mr Bradbrook says a survey carried out in 2006 found that 60 percent of Māori smokers smoked rollies, compared with 49 percent of European or 'other' and 23 percent of Pacific smokers.

"There is a myth that loose tobacco is less harmful because it's 'more natural' but this is far from the truth. In fact, some roll-your-own cigarettes are more harmful because they have more nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide than tailor-made cigarettes. , A just-released study found that roll-your-own smokers inhaled 28 percent more smoke, even though the rollies contained less tobacco than factory-made cigarettes.

"And two studies have found that smokers of roll-your-own cigarettes are more at risk of developing a range of cancers compared with smokers of tailor-made cigarettes."

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