Māori Party celebrates plain packaging progress on World Smokefree Day

The Māori Party marks World Smokefree Day by welcoming the Government’s continued commitment to passing plain packaging legislation this year.

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The Māori Party marks World Smokefree Day by welcoming the Government’s continued commitment to passing plain packaging legislation this year.

Māori Party Co-leader Marama Fox says: “We’ve hounded the Government on this issue for several years. It is also a message to international tobacco companies that New Zealand will not be intimidated by threats of legal action. Smoking cigarettes remains one of the biggest causes of preventable illnesses and death in our country,” says Marama Fox, co-leader of the Māori Party.

Former Māori Party Co-leader and internationally-acclaimed anti-smoking advocate Dame Tariana Turia introduced the plain packaging Bill in 2014.

Māori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says the party’s long campaign to reduce smoking is about saving lives. Around 5000 people die each year from smoking-related illnesses.

“I’ve been to too many tangi of whānau and friends who have died early as a result of the smoking habit. It’s a waste not just for those that pass away early but also for their whānau.

“Aotearoa was once regarded as a world leader in tobacco reform and we owe it to whānau and the next generation to keep up the fight. We will continue to work towards the goal of a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025.”

Mrs Fox says the smoking rates for whānau Māori and Pasifika families remain unacceptably high.

“We need to be adopting a range of measures to both support those who want to quit and deter the next generation from starting to smoke,” she says.

More than 30 percent of Māori adults still smoke however the number of rangatahi taking up the habit is less than 10 percent.

Mrs Fox says as well as passing the plain packaging legislation this year, she’d like the Government to fund further smoking cessation programmes that address the root causes of smoking such as stress and she’d like to see a Government-led campaign to stop smoking in cars.