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Maori and Pacific smokers to be targeted

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/06/2016

The government is changing the way it attacks smoking.

There's going to be more money spent on frontline services and less on advocacy, with Maori and Pacific communities targeted.

The overall amount spent on anti-smoking measures, about $12 million a year, won't change.

"Smoking rates have halved overall in the last 30 years but there are still 550,000 New Zealanders who smoke each day," Associate Health Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga said on Friday.

"From today, the Ministry of Health will put more funding into frontline services and less into advocacy."

Mr Lotu-Iiga says the ministry held an external review which recommended a realignment of frontline services to focus on at-risk Maori and Pacific communities and pregnant women "where it is sadly still true that too many continue to smoke".

About 15 per cent of adult New Zealanders smoke. The figure for Maori is 35 per cent and for Pacific people it's 22 per cent.

He says there will be a range of new partnerships between DHBs, Maori and Pacific providers, primary care practitioners and Whanau Ora collectives.

Some organisations haven't secured new contracts, but the 24/7 Quitline service isn't affected.

On Thursday parliament passed the second reading of the bill that will force cigarettes to be sold in plain packets.

It's on track to become law before the end of the year.

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