The National/ACT/NZ First coalition, which was sworn in on Monday (27 November), says it will drop plans to crack down on smoking to fund tax cuts promised prior to the election.
The previous government, under Labour, passed legislation to restrict smoking sales to around 600 outlets nationwide, reduce nicotine levels and progressively raise the age of purchase, effectively cutting off legal supply of cigarettes to the next generations.
Associate Professor MacCormick says this government is “letting down future generations”.
“We had an opportunity to lead the world and protect our rangitahi (younger people) from what is Aotearoa New Zealand’s leading cause of preventable death and disease.”
Smoking causes around 5000 deaths a year through cancer, stroke and heart disease. It costs the health service an estimated $2.5 billion each year.
“Smoking disproportionately affects vulnerable and lower socioeconomic groups of New Zealanders”, he says, “and those are exactly the groups that already experience health inequities.”
“That includes Māori, Pacific peoples, and those that are more economically disadvantaged. These are exactly the communities we should be supporting so we can close the health inequity gap.”
Smoking rates are higher among Māori and Pacific peoples - 20 per cent and 18 per cent respectively - compared to the general population (8 per cent).
“As the surgical college for Aotearoa New Zealand we urge Dr Reti to reconsider funding tax cuts at the expense of public health.”
Diana Blake, Communications Specialist
Contact: +64 210 247 8454