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           Home >  Health N Environment  > Health  :

Cancer Society New Zealand's views on smoking

Lynne St Clair-Chapman - 05/05/2010

Tuesday 20 April, 2010

It's sucking the life out of us

Fourteen New Zealanders, including two Maori, will die today.
The same number will die tomorrow and the day after that and every other day .. all year round.
They won't die in road accidents. They won't die of old age. They won't die as a result of suicide, drowning or an adventure tourism accident.
They will die because they continue to smoke.

The Cancer Society's Chief Executive, Dalton Kelly, says active smoking is directly linked to the premature deaths of 5,000 New Zealanders, including over 600 Maori, every year.

"We can't ignore the fact that current smoking rates are disproportionately high among Maori. Taking action to reduce smoking among Maori communities, in particular, should be a major health priority."

On Wednesday 21 April, 2010, the Cancer Society will be making an oral submission to the Maori Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into the tobacco industry in Aotearoa and the consequences of tobacco use for Maori. In their submission the Society has proposed some solutions to reduce the smoking rate, including an increase in tobacco taxes and banning point-of-sale tobacco retail displays. Both these solutions are very likely to have a notable impact in reducing Maori smoking rates.

Mr Kelly also argues that the government is letting Maori smokers down, saying Maori-specific cessation services receive about $8 million from the $40 million tobacco control budget, but Maori smokers contribute over $250 million per year in tobacco tax.

"We think a bigger slice of the smoking tax-take should be used to wean Maori smokers off a product that is killing them at alarming rates," he adds.

Mr Kelly says the Society supports wholeheartedly comments by Tariana Turia when she questions why we continue to allow tobacco to be sold.

"Stop allowing it on the shelf," she said, "and raise taxes."

"Hear, hear," says the Cancer Society. "Those actions, more than anything, will help us achieve our goal which is to reduce the incidence and impact of cancer in New Zealand.

The Facts
46% of Maori are daily smokers compared with 21% of non-Maori.

Maori women have the highest smoking rates at 49% (42% of Maori men smoke). The corresponding figures for non-Maori are 18% of women smoke and 24% of males smoke.

73% of Maori smokers use roll-your-own tobacco.

45% of Maori smokers report smoking indoors at home.

A major issue is that many young Maori children are smoking. The average age of Maori smoking initiation is just 11.6 years old.

22% of 14-15 year old Maori girls smoke compared with 8% of all 14-15 year old girls.

Between 2000 and 2004, lung cancer was responsible for over 31% of Maori cancer deaths, compared with 17% of non-Maori cancer deaths.

Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) death rates were two times higher for Maori than for non-Maori in the same period.

Deaths from respiratory disease were three times more frequent in Maori than in non-Maori.

Thursday 29 April 2010
Great first step - now let's protect our children
The Government's announcement of a substantial increase in the taxation of tobacco products is the first step towards a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2020, says the Cancer Society.

"We are delighted," said Dr Jan Pearson, Health Promotion Manager. "We see the next step as a ban on tobacco displays, something we have been advocating for a long time that will work towards preventing young people from taking up smoking. The tobacco industry relies on young people to start smoking as their customers die off at the rate of 5,000 a year, and it is not older people who take up smoking.

"As far as we are concerned the power walls of tobacco products one can see in shops and service stations are nothing short of advertising and should be illegal. Research tells us that tobacco displays normalise the smoking habit for young people."

The Cancer Society is looking forward to the outcome of the Ministry of Health's call for submissions on options for removing tobacco products from public display in retail outlets as it believes this could be the forerunner of another Government initiative to really reduce smoking uptake in younger people.

"Let's protect our children."