June 5, 2012 | by  |
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Durries In Danger!

Government vows to stub out smokers everywhere

A raft of new “smoke-free” policies at national, local, and university levels could see students who smoke forced to change their ways.

The Government’s latest Budget takes a heavy-handed approach to targeting the price of tobacco, aiming to decrease its consumption by 20 per cent by 2016.

A pack of twenty cigarettes will cost $20 more by then, with excise tax set to increase by 10 per cent each year from 2013.

Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said that hitting existing smokers in the pocket would encourage them to quit.

Turia said the tax increases would contribute to the Government’s goal of making New Zealand smokefree by 2025.

Students spoken to by Salient said that although they wanted to quit smoking, they were not sure whether price increases would change their habits.

“Realistically I can see myself deciding to buy cigarettes and eat noodles for a week, rather than buying healthy food. They’re like the most addictive thing in the world,” one student explained.

The policy change could also result in legal action against the government, according to the Green Party.

The party’s co-leader Dr Russel Norman said last week that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that the government is currently negotiating, could see tobacco companies able to take the government to court for policies it creates to try and reduce addiction.

He alleged that some tobacco companies’ business strategies include plans to sue governments after tobacco-control policies have been made, and that signing the trade agreement would leave those who draft New Zealand’s health policy open to intimidation from the corporations.

As well as an increase in the price of cigarettes, Wellingtonian smokers are facing a reduction in the number of places they are allowed to smoke.

Wellington City Council has recently moved to ban smoking in the city’s parks, playgrounds, and skateparks, and is looking at extending the smoke-free zone to the CBD’s Golden Mile.

The Council will be voting on the proposal this week, as well as whether to investigate other city areas where the smoke-free status could be extended to.

Victoria University has also begun moves to make its campuses smoke-free in 2013. Next trimester they will be engaging in a consultation process to gauge student and staff opinion.

Fact Time!

– 650,000 New Zealanders smoke

– 21 per cent of adults are current smokers, down from 33 per cent in 1983

– 45 per cent of Maori and 30 per cent of Pacific peoples smoke

 

– 5,000 people die from smoking-related illness in NZ each annually

– Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in NZ

– NZ ranks the 7th lowest for smoking rates in the OECD

– Smokers actually save the Government money in the long run, according to a Treasury report released last week. It says smokers pay $1.3 billion annually in excise, which exceeds the direct health costs they impose. It also claims that as smokers die earlier than non-smokers, the state saves money in superannuation costs.

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