Smoking boldness needed

Bold and new measures are needed from the Government if it is to achieve its goal of making the country smoke-free by 2025, Otago University researchers say.

With the goal now just eight years away, business as usual won't be enough to get to less than 5% of New Zealanders smoking by then, and Maori will still be over-represented, they say.

The research has been published in the international journal Tobacco Control.

"Without any further action, smoking rates will still be at moderate levels, particularly for Maori, with rates estimated at around 20% by 2025,'' lead author Frederieke Sanne van der Deen said.

Tobacco taxes and e-cigarettes had gone some way, but there was still no detailed government strategy in place to get the country smoke-free by 2025, she said.

The researchers have come up with "tobacco endgame strategies'' they believe could work.

They include reducing the number of tobacco retail outlets until only 18 stores are left in the country - one for each territorial authority - a sinking lid on tobacco supply, and prohibiting the sale and supply of tobacco to future generations.

The sinking lid supply strategy, which would end commercial sales of tobacco by 2025, was the only tactic in the study that achieved the 2025 goal for both Maori and non-Maori.

Auckland Maori health provider Hapai Te Hauora says the research provides evidence to support the new strategies.

The agency's Zoe Hawke said: "It also sends a clear message to decision-makers about the critical crossroads we're at, and what we need to do if we're serious about achieving Smokefree 2025.'' 

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