Tobacco control would take pressure off system: Verrall

Health spokeswoman Dr Ayesha Verrall talks at a public meeting "Let’s Keep New Zealand Smokefree"...
Health spokeswoman Dr Ayesha Verrall talks at a public meeting "Let’s Keep New Zealand Smokefree" in the Hutton Theatre at Tuhura Otago Museum yesterday. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Former health minister Dr Ayesha Verrall told an audience in Dunedin last night she believed tobacco control was one of the main ways to take pressure off the health system.

The event was a rally against the National-led government’s plans to repeal Labour’s smokefree legislation which was passed in 2022.

The legislation aimed to reduce the amount of nicotine allowed in smoked tobacco products, decrease the number of retailers selling it and ensure it was not sold to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009.

In the Hutton Theatre at Tūhura Otago Museum, Dr Verrall said she was passionate about the issue after caring for hundreds of patients with smoking-related conditions.

"I think this is vitally important at a time when our health system is under pressure and will remain under pressure."

The event was one of four hosted across the country by Dr Verrall to explain the approach to smoking the government has taken.

Labour had had a lot of correspondence supporting the smokefree position, Dr Verral said.

Before the event, Dunedin Labour MP Rachel Brooking, who was also speaking, said she was looking forward to "engaging with members of the community who are passionate about the health effects of smoking".

By Olivia Judd