Hāpai, the voice of Tobacco Control Advocacy, calls for a review of whether Roll Your Own Tobacco should remain available in New Zealand.

Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable disparities between Māori and non-Māori in New Zealand. Hāpai are extremely concerned about the high levels of Māori smokers and are focused on finding solutions to this issue.

Recently released Otago University evidence shows that Roll Your Own tobacco (RYO) use, is much higher among Māori and young adults. This has promoted a call from Hāpai to look closely at the availably of the product.

“If as a nation we are serious about reducing health inequities than reviewing whether we keep loose tobacco products in New Zealand seems a practical and logical next move. The evidence clearly shows us that more Māori are smoking RYO. It would be unethical to ignore the evidence, especially with only have 9 years left to reach our government supported goal of a smokefree 2025. ” States Zoe Hawke, General Manager of the Hāpai Tobacco Advocacy Service.

Another finding from Otago University’s research was the belief many RYO smokers have about the product being safer. Dr. Lance O’Sullivan, a GP in Northland and previous New Zealander of the Year states that “RYO’s have a stack load of chemicals in them to keep the tobacco fresh, and we should be sending a strong message to smokers that both products are extremely dangerous.

By not dealing to RYO’s we are actually encouraging all smokers to switch to RYO’s rather than quit. What we should be doing is supporting smokers to quit or switch to less harmful products like e-cigarettes”.