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Smokefree Taskforce challenge Govt’s move to repeal key reforms

The Smokefree Taskforce, established by the Ministry of Health to guide Aotearoa towards a smokefree future by 2025, is expressing deep concern over the incoming Government’s plans to repeal crucial amendments to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990. These amendments, critical in the fight against tobacco-related harm, include requirements for de-nicotisation, reduction in retail outlets, the generation ban, and stringent regulations on vaping products.

Nan Wehipeihana, who is a founding member of the Taskforce states “The proposed repeal represents a significant step backward in our nation’s health policy. It undermines years of progress in reducing smoking prevalence and improving public health, especially among Māori communities.” Says Wehipeihana.

Harawira, as a former MP for Te Taitokerau, and as a member of the Māori Affairs Select Committee who produced 42 recommendations in 2010 to guide Aotearoa towards the goal of Smokefree, is acutely aware of the impacts of politics on the lives of whānau. It was partly due to these efforts that, a decade later, the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan was drafted in 2020, marking a significant step towards Auahi Kore in Aotearoa.

“I came on to the Smokefree Taskforce to help drive through the changes to make Aotearoa Smokefree, because tobacco-related illnesses are killing Māori and we have the power to stop that. Rolling back those changes so government can get more money from tobacco tax, is a cynical political decision that government knows will lead directly to more Māori dying from tobacco-harm.

“I’ll be seeking a meeting with the Minister to have Government reconsider their plans to repeal guidelines critical in the fight against tobacco-related harm. The health of our nation should always be prioritised over political agendas. Our people’s lives are at stake, and we cannot afford to backtrack on the significant strides we’ve made towards a Smokefree Aotearoa”.

The Taskforce, with resounding support from several Public Health agencies and Hauora providers across the country, urges the incoming government to reconsider these changes. The members emphasize the need for comprehensive, evidence-based policies to continue the progress towards a Smokefree Aotearoa.

Wehipeihana adds “Our goal is to protect our communities, especially our rangatahi and Māori, from the devastating impact of tobacco. The incoming government’s approach is a direct threat to public health and contradicts evidence-based strategies proven to reduce smoking rates.”

The Taskforce calls upon the government to maintain these critical measures and work collaboratively towards a healthier, smokefree future for all of Aotearoa.

 

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