13 Jan 2016

More action needed on Maori smoking rates

8:37 am on 13 January 2016

A report into progress on addressing tobacco-related harm among Māori shows few of the recommendations made to a parliamentary committee have been implemented.

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Photo: 123rf.com

The recommendations were made by the Māori Affairs Select Committee in 2010, and their lack of progress has some tobacco researchers and public health advocates predicting the slow progress could hinder the goal of New Zealand becoming smokefree by 2025.

Concern by health researchers at the little change in the number of Māori smoking since the recommendations were first made in 2010 prompted the review.

Professor Richard Edwards, the Director of Public Health at Otago University and co-Director of Aspire 2025, worked on the review and said it had found a series of key recommendations had not been progressed "at all or sufficiently".

Only eight out of 42 of the recommendations had been fully implemented.

Tobacco-free advocacy group Te Ao Hurihuri director Shane Kawenata Bradbrook said New Zealand would not become a smokefree nation by 2025 if the government continued to ignore the recommendations by the Māori Affairs committee.

"It has gone backward, simple as that. Some of those recommendations, and a good example is plain packaging, we've seen stalling on that for the last three to four years. It may not be a silver bullet but it will contribute," Mr Bradbrook said.

Prof Edwards agreed that the delay with plain packaging was questionable as it had been adopted in other countries.

"Australia, Ireland, UK and now France and a whole bunch of other countries are moving ahead, and NZ is just treading water."

Other missed opportunities outlined in the report were reducing availability and supply of tobacco, comprehensive and effective use of mass media, and the extension of smokefree environments, especially for cars carrying children, he said.

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