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DHB Calls For Tobacco To Be Prescription Only

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
DHB Calls For Tobacco To Be Prescription Only

Gisborne, Aug 26 NZPA - Tairawhiti District Health Board will lobby the health minister to get tobacco classified so it can be sold only on prescription.

A high level of smoking in the Gisborne-East Coast region led to huge public health bills and many diseases, and an active stance needed to be taken, said board member Brian Wilson.

The board has supported Mr Wilson's recommendation to appeal to Health Minister Tony Ryall to have tobacco and nicotine sold only as a prescription drug.

"Nicotine is often described as a toxic addictive drug. It seems incredible then, that it is not classified as such," said Mr Wilson in a report to the board.

"My suggestion is that discussions take place around the possibility of it becoming a prescription medicine. It would not be available for young people but could be supplied to adults that were already addicted to tobacco on prescription."

The board will contact the other 20 district health boards, and local MPs, to push the message and gather support.

The message would be conveyed directly to the minister, Mr Wilson said.

"At least then we can test if this thing can get any legs and if we can actually do something about it."

Huge resources had already been invested in trying to limit the number of people smoking, Mr Wilson said.

"However, there is still a steady number of young people who take up the habit, resulting in a continuing burden on the health system to care for people with tobacco-related diseases.

"The feeble attempts to limit access by having the products in locked cabinets, restricted to certain age groups and controlling the display of it, have had only a small effect.

"What is needed is a bolder approach that will seriously make a difference."

Preventing young people from starting smoking would be the main focus, he said.

Mr Wilson's paper was unanimously supported.

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