Hāpai te Hauora believes appointing Minister Peeni Henare, to Associate Minister of Health was a strategic move which has the potential to accelerate progress towards smokefree 2025.
Mr Henare was appointed as Associate Minister of Health and Minister of Civil Defense, as part of Jacinda Ardern’s cabinet reshuffle this week.
Henare has long been a supporter of the community- driven kaupapa, Stop the Stock, which seeks to raise awareness around the excess availability of tobacco. Now a nationwide campaign, Stop the Stock began in Kelston, Auckland, where local dairies supported community calls for greater tobacco regulations by not selling cigarettes on World Smokefree Day.
Henare visited the dairy owners on May 31 to thank them: "It goes to show that you don't need to wait for government or legislation to affect change in your community," he said.
"I know it's just for one day, but it's a start."
Hāpai General Manager of Tobacco Control, Mihi Blair, extends on this point by asking whether we will need to wait much longer for government legislation with Henare in this role. Ms Blair states, "Henare is right- community leaders have forged ahead in driving the smokefree kaupapa but the feeling I’m now getting from these communities about his new appointment is hope- hope that we have someone in a position of real power that is just as committed to achieving smokefree 2025 as us. Creating tighter regulations on tobacco sales is a good way to demonstrate this commitment".
Earlier this year, Associate Minister of Health, Jenny Salesa, who has responsibility for Smokefree 2025, presented at the Hāpai/ ASH Vaping Policy forum. She stated that as 2025 draws nearer, she intends to create a smokefree action plan as to how to meet this deadline. Many tobacco control sector members believe reducing the availability of tobacco, of which there are currently no formal regulations, should be a top priority. Mihi Blair finishes, "Like the community, we’re thrilled to see a Māori leader like Peeni Henare who has a track record in supporting smokefree communities in this new role. We look forward to working with him to support the responsible Minister Jenny Salesa in translating such bold whakaaro for Smokefree 2025 into action."