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Cancer Society supported by many non-smoking young people expresses concern about the number of young people smoking.

Lynne St.Clair-Chapman - 19/07/2010

On 20 April, 2010, Lynne St.Clair-Chapman, National Communications Manager, Cancer Society New Zealand, sent out the following Media Release.

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 M ori.

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-M ori 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.

On 5 July 2010 Lynne St.Clair-Chapman wrote:

Young people lead the way

The Cancer Society of New Zealand congratulates members of the New Zealand Youth Parliament for their active and open approach to tobacco control, and commitment to New Zealand's 2020 Smokefree vision.

New Zealand Youth Parliament, which is co-ordinated by the Ministry of Youth Development every three years, gives young people, who are selected by members of Parliament, an opportunity to take part in debates held in Chamber and hold youth select committee meetings. The select committees conduct inquiries on issues that affect young people in New Zealand.

The Health Select Committee of this year's Youth Parliament (6 and 7 July) is going to debate smoking and address an inquiry into creating a Smokefree generation of young New Zealanders by 2020.

Today young people are definitely at the forefront of the battle against smoking and recognising this, the Cancer Society of New Zealand started working with young people back in 2006/07. The Smokefree Youth Ambassador project empowers young people to take action and raise awareness, especially in regard to tobacco displays which are a potent promotional tool for tobacco companies. The Smokefree Youth Ambassador project is still going strong and young people are aware, more than ever, of the harms of smoking.

And the best news is - the rates of smoking among young people are lower than at any other time in recent history. The New Zealand Youth 2000 and Youth 2007 studies (Adolescent Health Research Group 2003 - 2008) of over 8,000 secondary students identified that 92% were smoke-free and only 8% of students reported smoking cigarettes weekly, or more often, in 2007, compared to 16% in 2001. Fewer students had tried smoking cigarettes - down from 52% in 2001, to 32% in 2007.

Last week a group of young people presented very strongly and passionately to the M ori Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the tobacco industry in Aotearoa and the consequences of tobacco use for Maori.

They talked about the personal impact their parents and grandparents' smoking had on their whanau.

The young people said that non-smoking has become the norm in their schools and they want our politicians and communities to hear their voices and take strong action against this deadly poison.

It is certain our young people have taken this battle very seriously and with their awareness and actions a Smokefree New Zealand, in the near future, doesn't seems out of reach any more.

On 13 July 2010 Lynne St.Clair-Chapman wrote

Ban those Powerwalls!

TODAY in Gisborne a group of ten Youth Ambassadors from the Cancer Society handed over 500 signed postcards to local Labour list MP Moana Mackey. The postcards advocate for a ban on cigarette displays in dairies, service stations and supermarkets.

The Cancer Society's campaign to remove ‘powerwalls' of tobacco advertising began more than three years ago and has been noted for its extensive involvement with young people who, it says, are being targeted by tobacco advertising in retail outlets.

The recent collection of signatures for the ban sent a clear signal to the Government to ban the displays, said Gisborne Youth Ambassador Rory McCourt.

Although Members of Parliament Moana Mackey and Parekura Horomia have expressed support for the increasingly popular move, local electorate MP, Hon Anne Tolley, has not yet publicly backed a ban.

Sam Whittle, a member of the Youth Ambassadors said today's event was "positive and it was inspiring to see more than 15% of Gisborne's population speaking with one voice on the issue." Every year the group has run Youth Week events to promote the campaign and awareness of teen smoking, including a youth rally, film festival and debate.

"The cigarettes will still be there, they just won't be right in front of our faces, tempting us," said Ella Swan, 14 and a half, which is the targeted age for smoking uptake by tobacco companies. Caroline Simmonds agreed, "we're not taking away cigarettes, we're just trying to get them out of the sight of kids."

Youth ambassadors in Gisborne
Youth ambassadors in Gisborne
Click here to view a larger version

Reduction in the numbers of young people smoking

On 15 July 2010 Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) NZ reported progress in reducing the number of young smokers.

Dramatic youth smoking decline one decade on

The Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Year 10 Snapshot Survey shows the number of daily smokers among the country's Year 10 students is down to 5.6 percent from 15.6 percent in 1999.

The survey has run each year since 1999, when 31.6 percent of students reported having never tried tobacco. The latest results show that 64 percent of students aged 14 and 15 have never smoked a puff.

The report's author Dr Janine Paynter says, "We're seeing that some of the inequalities in tobacco use are closing and it is particularly encouraging to see a decent reduction in the daily smoking rate for Pacific girls."

The daily smoking rate amongst Pacific Island girls is down to 7.2 percent from 10.5 percent on last year's survey and from a starting point of 23 percent in 1999.

Overall a greater proportion of girls compared to boys smoke with one in eight girls (12.5%) saying they are regular smokers (daily, weekly or monthly) compared to 9.1 percent for boys.

The highest daily smoking rate is among Maori girls at 17.9 percent (36.2 percent in 1999).

The Maori boys' daily smoking rate sits at 11.1 percent (23.6 percent in 1999).

"We are well overdue with policy moves like removing the display of tobacco in shops, as this will provide an extra boost in removing tobacco from young peoples' lives," said Dr Paynter.

Nearly 27 000 questionnaires were returned by schools across the country.

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