Hāpai Te Hauora the voice of Tobacco Control warns New Zealanders to be prepared for a probable tobacco industry onslaught of exaggerated illicit tobacco trade claims. It is internationally recognised that wherever standardised packaging, tax increases or any other tobacco control policy that threatens tobacco industry business is introduced, the industry will do its best to undermine public support.
Zoe Hawke, who leads the Hāpai service says that “typically the tobacco industry will bring up arguments about increased illicit trade and other scare tactics”. We encourage New Zealanders to question the validity of any information provided by industry. We are a nation of clever people who are not fooled easily, however the tobacco industry will still give it go to protect their profits.
The introduction of plain packaging in Australia is an example of the extent the industry will go to, they released an expensive campaign that promoted the idea that crime through illicit trade would increase. However there is substantial evidence that plain packaging did not increase illicit trade.
Dr. Lance O’Sullivan, previous New Zealander of the Year and an advisor for the Hāpai tobacco control advocacy service states that “understanding that New Zealand has one of the lowest estimates of illicit tobacco consumption in the world (2-3%) is important, we should be less worried about the minor issue of illicit tobacco and more concerned about legal tobacco use which kills 5,000 New Zealanders every year. If we listen to the industry we will not reach our goal of less cancer and less tobacco related illness for ourselves and our kids. Reducing legal tobacco sold at every gas station, and every local dairy, soaked in 4,000 toxic chemicals remains the priority".