Tala Pasifika Director Lealailepule Edward Cowley is calling on MPs to support today’s second reading of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill in its entirety.
This new legislation recognises people who smoke coupled with support measures to help them to stop smoking. “The three key components of reducing nicotine levels in tobacco products, reducing tobacco availability, and ratcheting up the legal age to access tobacco all complement each other and must be introduced together to form a dedicated pathway to reach our Government Smokefree Aotearoa goal of less than five percent prevalence for all populations living in Aotearoa,” says Lealailepule.
The key findings in the Annual NZ Health Survey 2022 showed a welcome decline for all ethnic groups except Pacific people with (18.2%). Cowley says “This should send warning signals to our lawmakers that the current framework to achieve a Smokefree by 2025 requires this injection of new legislative change, to support more Pasifika people to stop smoking successfully, alongside our populations in Aotearoa who are closer to our Smokefree 2025 goal. “The proposed new legislation measures are evidenced based and are supported by decades of research – seen both here in Aotearoa and on international research platforms,” says Cowley.
“Nicotine is highly addictive and is a key component as to why people struggle to quit smoking. Research shows that reduced nicotine levels mean people who smoke ingest lower levels of nicotine; cigarettes are less addictive, and as a result people find it easier to quit,” says Cowley.
Lealailepule says “Recently an overwhelming wave of Pacific voices expressed via recent written and oral submissions to this bill, their lived experience. Many shared personal stories which talked directly to heartache, loss, harm and death linked to smoked tobacco products within their families.
Our Pacific communities know only too well the inequities caused by tobacco use and that achieving a Smokefree 2025 for our Pasifika communities will not be a reality unless this critical legislation is supported for all New Zealanders to live lives free from the ongoing addiction of a product that used as intended kills fifty percent of its users.
Our politicians in Government have a legal obligation to first prioritise the inequitable health outcomes, particularly for Māori & Pacific and our underserved communities. We respectfully demand our MPs to be on the side of positive progressive change at this time in history to maximise every possible effort as we move closer to our goal of a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025 for all New Zealanders.