Any decision about requiring tobacco companies to plain package their products is a decision for New Zealand as a sovereign nation, not foreign interests or governments, says Labour's spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Phil Goff.
"With respect, we don't need to be told by the US Chamber of Commerce or the National Foreign Trade Council how or why to make a decision on this issue," Phil Goff said.
"Every nation has the right to regulate in the public interest and there is no trade agreement we have entered into, or should ever enter into, that takes away that sovereign right.
"Tobacco is not just another consumer product able to brand and promote itself as it wishes. Tobacco kills. It is the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand accounting for around 4500 deaths a year. One in four of our cancer deaths are caused by smoking. It is the only consumer product that kills half its lifetime users when used as the manufacturer intends.
"The reason for international tobacco interests so strongly opposing plain packaging of its products is clearly because that will have an effect on its sales. Cigarette pack branding and imagery is the last legal form of tobacco marketing and it is time that it went.
"Respectable agencies like the US Chamber of Commerce National Association of Manufacturers and the National Foreign Trade Council do themselves no credit in being used by tobacco companies to advocate their cause.
"New Zealand needs no advice about abiding by international trade rules and obligations. We do that conscientiously. But that does not and must never restrict our ability to act in any and every way possible to deter people from consuming products that damage their health and kill them," Phil Goff said.
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