Monday, 12 August 2013

New Zealand aims to be smokefree

New Zealand is planning on becoming the first country in the world to go smokefree. In March 2011 the New Zealand Government committed to a goal of New Zealand becoming smokefree by 2025.

It's about time Britain put forward its own smokefree plans.

As smoking numbers drop and new statistics reveal it is no longer New Zealand’s worst killer, health workers are convinced we can eradicate smoking within just 12 years – much like we eradicated the southern saltmarsh mosquito, smallpox and polio. The tobacco industry, it seems, is in its final days.

The language is unscholarly and uncompromising. This is the endgame.
Big Tobacco, the king that has presided for so long over the chessboard of public health, is isolated, and the pawns are closing in.

"The New Zealand government's goal of achieving a smoke-free society by 2025 reflects growing interest in 'endgame' solutions to tobacco smoking," the British Medical Journal reported last year.
Tobacco companies portray attempts to eradicate smoking as an assault on individual freedoms and choice, the journal article continued, heightening politicians' sensitivity to 'nanny state' allegations.
"Public support for stronger policies could strengthen political will; however, little is known about how smokers perceive endgame scenarios ..."

The tobacco companies are cornered.

They have spent millions on advertising campaigns opposing plain packaging, and have taken court action in a high-stakes attempt to stop its implementation.
They are buying up electronic cigarette brands: if you can't beat the quit smoking brigade, buy 'em out.
They have hired some of the best-connected lobbyists in Wellington to whisper in the ears of politicians, and, in at least one documented case, have made cash contributions to a political leader's expenses.

Why so feral? It is because New Zealand is on track to become the first country in the world to vote to ban the sale of tobacco, and to stamp out its consumption in workplaces, public spaces and even - as the Herald on Sunday reveals today-private places like the family car.

Smokefree New Zealand is an ideal that, if successful, will have been more than 40 years in the making - but it faces a massive hurdle.

With 2025 edging closer, there are still around 650,000 New Zealanders - 18 per cent of the adult population - who continue to smoke.

In Gisborne, restaurateur Lee Fong stopped selling cigarettes six years ago. The owner of the China Palace saw the impact smoking was having on her customers and it troubled her.
"A lot of parents were spending a lot of money on smokes and were having problems looking after their own children."
She has not missed the cigarette revenue and, with the aid of nicotine replacement therapies, now boasts a 20-strong smokefree workforce.
People like Lee Fong are making a difference at a local level - but nationwide public health strategies to eradicate smoking will affect every New Zealander, not just the smokers.

Taxpayer dollars are being thrown at targeted mass media campaigns, generously-subsidised quit smoking products and wrap around support agencies. At the same time law makers are changing the legislative landscape as they strive to make smokefree environments the new normal.

The task of such wholesale change to social attitudes is both unprecedented and challenging but the cost, say those at the forefront, is worth it. You see, this is a matter of life and death.

The following 10 strategies will stub out smoking in New Zealand.

1. Smokefree cars

2. Slashing supply

3. Plain packs

4. Smokefree communities

5. Cutting duty-free tobacco

6. Tax hikes

7. Mass media shock tactics

8. Removing all flavour enhancers

9. Booting out the lobbyists

10. Quit smoking support

Why be smokefree? 

There are heaps of reasons to be smokefree.

Save money

The cost of tobacco continues to increase. In 2012 a 20 pack of cigarettes costs around $14.50, and a 30g pouch of tobacco around $31.50.
Smoking is an expensive habit - smoking a pack a day costs around $5,300 per year.
If you quit it's like giving yourself a pay rise – you can spend the extra money on whatever you choose. You might like to treat yourself to something special with the money you've saved.

Protect your children

Most parents and caregivers don't want their children to smoke, even if they are smokers themselves.
If you're smokefree you won't be exposing your children to the toxins from tobacco smoke. Children who are exposed to tobacco smoke can suffer from its effects. The small lungs and lighter weight of young children make them particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. Their exposure is linked to:
  • middle ear infections (including glue ear)
  • lower respiratory illnesses (including croup, bronchitis, bronchiolitis and pneumonia)
  • the onset of asthma and worsening of asthmatic symptoms
  • reduced lung growth
  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS, or cot death)
  • meningococcal disease.

Be healthier

The impacts of smoking on your body and health are widely known.

Also, if you are ever injured or have surgery you will recover quicker if you are smokefree.

Live longer

Growing up, we learn from each other - whether it's parenting tips, how to play sport, how to speak, or how to cook. When we lose our parents, our aunts and uncles, we lose a resource and opportunities to learn from them and their many skills.
By quitting smoking you can start to live a healthier life and increase the time that your loved ones can learn from you, and you from them.

Feel better about yourself

A lot of people have had enough of smoking. Feedback from smokers shows that they are sick of trying to hide the fact they are still smoking and feel bad every time they light up. Among the advantages of giving up are that your clothes, hair and breath will stop smelling of smoke. Your car and home will smell better too.
Smoking is so addictive that it can dictate what people do and when. Get your control back and do things when you want, where you want and with who you want.

No regrets

Eighty percent of people who currently smoke wouldn't if they had their life over again. For many people, the addiction to tobacco is so strong they struggle to quit smoking and can try many times before they are successful.