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‘PSNZ urges government to uphold smokefree legislation for children and youth’

Te Kahui Mātai Arotamariki o Aotearoa | Paediatric Society of New Zealand, voices its concern over the government’s recent proposition to repeal critical aspects of the country’s smoke-free legislation. This proposed repeal undermines New Zealand’s position as a global leader in tobacco control, posing a significant threat to the health and wellbeing of our young people.

Smoking and vaping are escalating concerns in the health landscape of Aotearoa, particularly among our tamariki and rangatahi. The current Smokefree Legislation has been an excellent start in reducing smoking rates among young people through measures like limited sales outlets, stringent age restrictions, and the denicotinisation of tobacco products. These regulations have not only decreased the accessibility of these harmful products to our youth but also played a role in preventing the transition from vaping to more hazardous smoked tobacco products.

PSNZ President and Auckland paediatrician Owen Sinclair (Te Rarawa) says, “The role of government is to protect its citizens. Smoking only produces harm so government policy must be focused towards a smokefree future for our tamariki and rangatahi.”

He adds, “I am also very concerned that the regressive nature of this proposed approach will affect Māori and Pasifika significantly more than other groups. Māori and Pasifika will bear a disproportionate burden of this ill-advised health policy.”

PSNZ firmly supports the current legislation and emphasises the need for continued and strengthened efforts in this area. The proposed changes to repeal parts of this legislation are counterproductive and endanger the health advancements made so far. Members of the organisation highlight the importance of maintaining and enhancing measures to reduce youth vaping, a stance that aligns with our commitment to the health and safety of children and young people in New Zealand.

Dr. Colette Muir, Developmental Paediatrician, says, “Strong tobacco control is vital. By denicotinising tobacco and making it more challenging to obtain, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of young people transitioning from vaping to smoked tobacco products – a transition that increases health risks dramatically.”

PSNZ calls on the government to reconsider its position and uphold the smoke-free laws that have set Aotearoa apart on the global stage. We must prioritise the health and future of our young people, and this includes working towards the vision of our young people being nicotine-free.

 

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