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Smokefree NZ needs new strategies: study

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/06/2017

New Zealand will fail to reach its Smokefree 2025 goal unless "novel and bold strategies" are adopted, Otago University researchers say.

The government has set a target of less than 5 per cent of New Zealanders being smokers by that year.

But the lead author of an Otago study, Frederieke Sanne van der Deen, says the country isn't on track to get there.

Without further action, she says, smoking rates will still be at moderate levels, particularly for Maori with rates estimated at around 20 per cent by 2025.

Researchers estimated the impact of a range of new "tobacco endgame strategies" by using computer simulation.

They included substantially reducing the number of tobacco retail outlets, prohibiting sales to future generations and phasing down commercial tobacco sales.

Ms van der Deen says such measures could accelerate progress towards the smokefree goal.

She says they could reduce the ethnic gaps in smoking and result in large health gains and cost-savings to the health sector, particularly for Maori.

"There has been some recent progress, such as an extension of the yearly tobacco tax increases until 2020, the adoption of standardised tobacco packaging, and the announcement that nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes will be legalised," she said.

"But there is still no detailed NZ Government strategy in place to get the country to Smokefree 2025."

Ms van der Deen said the study - published in the international journal Tobacco Control - showed that the government needed to take more urgent action.

"At the very minimum, it needs to develop an action plan of how to achieve the smokefree goal particularly for, and with, Maori," she said.

"With just eight years until 2025, we have to get moving. Continuing with the current strategy is certainly not enough."

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