New Zealand should be smoke free by 2025: Lawmakers



New Zealand should be smoke free by 2025: Lawmakers Wellington: New Zealand should crack down on the tobacco industry and aim to make the nation smoke free by 2025, a parliamentary committee recommended on Wednesday.

The government should outlaw smoking in cars and public places, ban tobacco displays in shops and force retailers to sell cigarettes in plain packaging, the Maori Affairs select committee said.

The cross-party committee also said the tobacco industry should pay for addiction treatment such as nicotine patches and the government should lift the price of tobacco and reduce imports of the product.

"By increasing regulations regarding the supply of tobacco, we believe the government can reduce the death, illness, and harm tobacco causes in New Zealand society," the committee's report said.

The committee set out to examine ways of reducing tobacco use among Maori, New Zealand's indigenous people, 45 per cent of whom smoke, more than twice the national average.

It said smoking quickly embedded itself as part of Maori culture after tobacco was introduced to New Zealand in the 1800s and Maori women now had one of the highest lung cancer rates in the world.

It also said smoking-related diseases led to the early deaths of Maori elders, preventing traditional knowledge from being passed on.

"(We) consider this loss a tragedy, and are determined to remove tobacco from our country's future in order to preserve Maori culture for younger generations," the report said.

It said smoking was a broader issue of national significance and called for the government to halve the smoking rate in the next five years, with the aim of stamping out the habit altogether by 2025.

PTI