NZ: 50% of women want to ban all tobacco sales

Written by By Hanna Hoikkala, CNN

New Zealand’s health minister hopes to ban cigarette sales after a country-wide survey finds that 50% of women want to ban all tobacco sales.

A newly released cross-cultural survey by country’s health department confirmed that more than 90% of New Zealanders support a ban on all sales of tobacco, with greater majorities in women (89%) and younger (65%) citizens.

Better still, an overwhelming majority want the ban to be aimed at pre- and post-purchase practices such as the stall-top display of cigarettes.

A new report by New Zealand’s Health Ministry shows that over half of New Zealanders support a ban on all sales of tobacco, with greater majorities in women (89%) and younger (65%) citizens. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Andy McKendry

“We have a long way to go,” Health Minister David Clark told the New Zealand Herald, explaining that a new levy (increased to NZ$18 ($12.48) in 2018-19) contributed to reduced consumption since 2014.

“And obviously we are committed to reducing harm from tobacco, through more effective taxes, plain packaging, the law around indoor smoking areas,” he added.

Clark also reminded that smoking is still the biggest killer in New Zealand.

New Zealand recently pushed for a massive increase in cigarette taxes , explaining it would bring in some NZ$4.2 billion ($2.7 billion) this year. Clark made the announcement just after Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced his country would slap a 75% tax hike on cigarettes, creating a bill with ramifications across the Asia-Pacific region.

A graph by UNODC shows the per capita rates of smoking in New Zealand and Australia, along with India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and China. Credit: Graph by UNODC

Reintroducing tobacco taxes, which are nearly double New Zealand’s neighbors Australia (NZ$31) and New Zealand’s largest ally and trading partner the US (NZ$40), was only considered in April this year.

“That gave us the opportunity to create policy that did go through a major consultation process to see how we could best reduce harm, and it was the feedback received that makes me really excited about what we’re doing today,” Clark said.

Tobacco and women

Though Clark agreed that New Zealand, a country with a long and substantial history of heavy smoking, should be well aware of the strong negative effects of smoking, he pointed out that there was still a strong female push for the ban.

“I think New Zealanders are aware of the devastating effects of smoking. Whether it’s the health consequences, whether it’s the opportunity costs, whether it’s the damage that tobacco does to families and so forth,” he said.

“What I think I’ve seen is a strong push, by both men and women, with huge support for this and I think it’s part of making New Zealand the best place to live, work and create.”

A lung cancer victim … a young woman takes part in an event highlighting World No Tobacco Day in February 2017. Credit: Getty Images

In September 2016, the WHO confirmed that New Zealand, Norway and Australia were the countries with the highest rates of current smoking in the WHO’s World Health Organization’s Global Tobacco Atlas Report, released on World No Tobacco Day

The UN agency also said New Zealand’s annual smoking prevalence was 14.4% — compared to 19.5% in India, 36.8% in India and 71.8% in Indonesia.

“The risks of smoking do go up as people age, but the lowest rates of smoking occur among older people in New Zealand,” WHO said in the 2016 report.

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