3 Feb 2011

MPs hear calls to tighten tobacco controls

9:28 pm on 3 February 2011

A anti-tobacco campaigner says nicotine addicts could one day be forced to get cigarettes on prescription.

The chairperson of the Smokefree Coalition, Jan Pearson, told Parliament's health select committee on Thursday that the group supports a proposed ban on tobacco displays in stores.

But she says the coalition also wants the Government to reduce nicotine levels in tobacco, ban smoking in cars and require nicotine replacement therapies to be sold everywhere tobacco is sold.

Dr Pearson says a future government may decide to outlaw tobacco sales from anywhere except pharmacies.

She says banning tobacco displays will be a big step towards making New Zealand tobacco-free by 2020.

Anti-smoking campaigners say there's no evidence to support claims that retailers' business will be devastated by a ban on tobacco displays.

MPs are considering banning in-store tobacco displays under the Smoke-free Environments (Controls and Enforcement) Amendment Bill.

Director of the Smokefree Coalition, Prudence Stone, says retailers should not be given two years to comply.

Dr Stone says a ban on tobacco display will not prevent retailers from selling tobacco, but it will protect children from exposure to branding and support smokers trying to quit.

A public health expert told MPs he rejected claims that further restrictions on tobacco supply would create a black market.

Associate Professor Nick Wilson from Otago University said even greater restrictions, such as reducing tobacco imports by 10% a year, should be considered.