New Zealand has made real progress towards building a Smokefree Aotearoa, but more urgent efforts are needed to achieve this goal by 2025 says the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand (ARFNZ).
ARFNZ Chief Executive Letitia Harding says the organisation fully supports the government’s Smokefree 2025 Action Plan, particularly its focus on addressing health equity and the world-leading new measures of denicontinised tobacco, reduced tobacco availability, and creating a smokefree generation.
"Overall, smoking statistics in New Zealand have been steadily tracking downwards - which is what we want to see. Less smoking means better respiratory health. ARFNZ strongly supports the Action Plan’s equity focus and notes the bold new measures that will soon be in place will greatly reduce health inequities. These measures, together with the Plan’s commitment to strengthen investment in community-led initiatives, will help make the Smokefree 2025 goal a reality."
The ARFNZ strongly supports the introduction of very low nicotine cigarettes. "We know that the use of very low nicotine cigarettes (VLNC) will be transformational in helping people who smoke to stop. Legislation soon to be introduced will mean only VLNCs will be available for sale, importation and distribution in New Zealand. This measure will bring profound benefits and represents truly visionary thinking by Associate Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall," says Professor Janet Hoek, an advisor on ARFNZ’s Vaping Educational Advisory Group, and a co-director of the University of Otago’s ASPIRE Research Centre.
ARFNZ also wants to see a reduction in the number of retailers selling cigarettes this year, particularly those in close proximity to schools. "Tobacco is not a normal consumer product and should not be treated as such. If we genuinely want a smokefree generation, then we need to see meaningful change on the availability of these products in the coming months, as outlined in the plan," says Letitia.
One potential major stumbling block to achieving the Smokefree 2025 goal is the rising number of young people using vapes and e-cigarettes. "We know that more and more young people are taking up vaping and that the majority of these vapes contain nicotine, many at very high levels. Our young people may be smoking less, but vaping is rapidly taking its place, and people who have never smoked are starting to vape." warns Letitia. "The Action Plan proposes introducing a Smokefree Generation policy; we should seize the opportunity to introduce a Nicotine-Free Generation policy."
The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ is New Zealand’s principal authority on respiratory conditions, and represents the interests of the 700,000 New Zealanders living with respiratory disease. The Foundation’s purpose is to lead respiratory health knowledge through research, education, and advocacy, to reduce respiratory-related hospitalisations, and to improve respiratory health outcomes for all.
3 March, 2022
The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) welcomes the release of the ASH Year 10 Snapshot Survey, and the finding that daily smoking among Year 10 students now stands at just 1.3%, down from 2% two years ago.