Hāpai Te Hauora applauds the government and today’s announcement by Associate Minister of Health, Dr. Ayesha Verrall on their proposals for a Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan. The three key goals are to eliminate inequities in smoking rates and smoking related illness; increase the number of children and young people who remain Smokefree; and, increase the number of people who successfully quit smoking.
Hāpai Te Hauora are pleased that within the first focus area to strengthen the tobacco control system, it is proposed to prioritise action to strengthen Māori governance of the tobacco control programme.
Hāpai CEO, Selah Hart, says she feels reassured by the announcement because it demonstrates a government committed to prioritise and address Smokefree 2025: "I, like other Māori health leaders, was pleased to read the announcement of the plan today, particularly its focus on Māori governance. The success of this plan now hinges on its ability to centre and action the voices of those closest to tobacco harm - our Māori and Pasifika communities".
Following the work initiated over 10 years ago, as a part of the Māori Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into the Tobacco Industry in Aotearoa and the consequences of tobacco use for Māori advocates who were instrumental in this work, are praising this bold move.
"This long-awaited tobacco action plan will begin the final demise of tobacco products in this country. To be a smokefree nation by 2025 requires some radical changes to stifle and then eliminate tobacco from all our communities. This plan has the opportunity to put public health first and the tobacco industry out of business." stated Shane Bradbrook - Tobacco Control Advocate.
"For Māori, this plan provides some control over how this deadly product is finally pushed out of our people's lives. For too long the tobacco industry has been addicting our people, fleecing them of their money before we have to bury them in urupa all over this land. I am looking forward to truly making this a sunset industry in this corner of the world." said Mr Bradbrook.
West Auckland community member, Marley Smith (52), has smoked since she was in primary school and is sceptical that tobacco control measures alone will help whānau overcome addictions. "They say smoking is harder to give up then drugs. Everything else is secondary because addiction is real. Whānau need support to deal with why they smoke in the first place".
Hāpai Te Hauora has been appointed to carry out consultation with Māori and Pasifika whānau, anau, famili and aiga on its five focus areas, which include strengthening the tobacco control system including Māori governance and supporting community action. Other focus areas are: making smoked tobacco products less available, less addictive, less appealing, less affordable and to enhance existing initiatives.
Ms Hart agrees and believes the action plan needs to integrate and compliment other equity initiatives, like the government’s Child Wellbeing and Poverty Action Group or He Ara Oranga, the Mental Health and Addiction report: "To me, achieving Smokefree 2025 requires a concerted effort in improving the environments in which we are born into and live, learn, work, play, and worship in. Then these initiatives like reducing tobacco availability, addictiveness and appeal will be far more effective".