5 Sep 2009

Call for stronger controls on tobacco

6:36 pm on 5 September 2009

Health researchers say tobacco control policies should be strengthened or modified because they have reduced smoking by only 3%.

The issue is being discussed at the public health association conference at Otago University in Dunedin.

Professor Peter Crampton from Otago University campus in Wellington told delegates that in 1996 about 24% of New Zealanders were smokers. Despite significant reforms, he says, a decade later that figure had dropped by just 3%.

Professor Crampton says smoking prevalence has actually increased over that period in several demographics. He believes the figures illustrate that dramatic changes to tobacco policy are required.

Another researcher, Professor Richard Edwards, suggests a tobacco supply agency be established to restrict the amount of tobacco entering New Zealand.

He says the agency would buy the tobacco from the tobacco industry and then control how and where it was sold.

Professor Edwards says sales could be banned within 1km of schools and tobacco sold in plain packaging featuring only health warnings.