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Smokefree target 'won't be achieved'

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/05/2017

A group of researchers says the government isn't doing enough to achieve its target of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025, so they're going to come up with their own action plan.

"The government promised an action plan for Smokefree 2025 two years ago but this has not appeared", said lead investigator Professor Richard Edwards of Otago University.

"It is time for someone to act to ensure our legacy to coming generations will be a smokefree future instead of continued death and disease due to smoking."

The group believes "robust interventions" are needed to get Smokefree 2025 back on track.

"We have been overtaken as other countries like Scotland with similar goals to drastically reduce smoking have developed the comprehensive action plans we can't seem to come up with," said Prof Edwards.

"Other jurisdictions around the world have also moved ahead of New Zealand in areas like plain packaging, enhanced pictorial health warnings, smokefree cars, mass media campaigns, controlling additives in cigarettes and reducing the supply of tobacco products."

Group member Zoe Hawke of the National Tobacco Control Advisory Service says there are still well over half a million smokers in New Zealand.

"Over a fifth of young people - almost two-fifths among Maori - continue to reach adulthood as smokers," she said.

"Several thousand people, including hundreds of Maori and Pacific people, still die every year from smoking-related diseases."

The group's research suggests the goal of reducing smoking to below five per cent - the definition of smokefree - will be missed by a wide margin.

It says it will release its action plan in the near future.

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