Why is the concept of tobacco taxes and punishing families continually dangled in NZ media? Because that is exactly what the tobacco industry and their associates use to ensure cigarettes are kept affordable and accessible.
The undisputed key message that most New Zealanders already know is that Tobacco Kills.
The government are on the right track with increasing tobacco tax and cigarette prices because as the science and smokers say as long as cigarettes are widely accessible, they are likely to smoke. The Ministry of Health (2016) says that smoking was one of the two leading modifiable risks to health in 2013 accounting for about 9% of all illness, disability and premature mortality Hāpai, the only Ministry of Health funded national voice of tobacco control advocacy says tobacco tax must continue and should be increased.
The Ministry of Health’s aim is that by 2018 an estimated 58,000 adults will have quit daily smoking, of which 27,000 will be Māori adults and 8,000 will be Pacific adults, tobacco tax is one of a set of measures
Hāpai, an Iwi owned public health organisation, calls for stronger stop smoking support for all smokers and in particular for low income smokers.
Zoe Martin-Hawke who leads the national tobacco control service says that the research supports points out the need for better support for smokers to quit.
“We believe this is the focus of the Ministry of Health.” Zoe says… ”this way the tax increase measure will have stronger impact and success amongst low income smokers. We need both strong policy measures and best support for smokers to quit“. Smokers in a recent study (2017) said that despite trying to quit, most had failed to become Smokefree and felt victimized by a punitive policy system that coerced change without supporting it. They managed financial pressure by reducing the amount of tobacco or cigarettes they smoked as well as other increasingly desperate measures for example recycling used cigarette and tobacco waste.
CEO Lance Norman says that Hāpai is in the business of increasing opportunities for Maori, and all others to enjoy good health and to be sustained by healthy environments. He says this study is useful because it gives us insight on views from ‘smokers’ themselves. It balances the rhetoric out in the media that has had focus on a single view from a single person. It’s better to keep tobacco taxes rising and use that surplus to helping smokers to quit with effective stop smoking services.