The Maori Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the impact of smoking on Maori has been told the tobacco industry deliberately targets Maori.
A submission by Te Kao-based Whakawhiti Ora Pai Community Health included an interview with a kaumatua who had been the Northland sales representative for a major tobacco company, Waatea News reports.
Director Errol Murray says the kaumatua detailed how free cigarettes and kickbacks were used to get retailers to give brands priority, and how a large proportion of the sales team was Maori.
He says this was not because it was an equal opportunity employer, but because Maori were the market.
Mr Murray says it was the kaumatua's job then, selling to his own relations, but he is a non-smoker now and regrets it.