Helen Clark: New Zealand’s smoke-free gains among my proudest achievements, but there’s more work to do

By August 25, 2020 Recent News

Stuff co.nz 23 August 2020
OPINION: Thirty years ago, New Zealand dreamed a big dream – to prevent the harm and death caused by tobacco smoking.

At the time, one in three adult New Zealanders – adults and youth – smoked regularly.

In comparison to other health risks we face, smoking is uniquely harmful to the health of individuals, whānau, the health services and society as a whole.

When used as directed by the manufacturers, up to two-thirds of people who smoke die early from smoking tobacco, and one-third of those deaths are in middle-aged people who lose, on average, more than twenty years of life.

Smoking remains the single most preventable cause of premature death in New Zealand.

As I reflect on my years of public service, one of my proudest achievements is leading the passage of New Zealand’s first comprehensive tobacco control legislation.

As Minister of Health in 1989, I wanted to promote a strengthened response to the tobacco epidemic and the tobacco industry behind it.

The Smoke-free Environments Act was passed under my leadership as Minister of Health thirty years ago this week in 1990.

It required things we now take for granted: it banned smoking on public transport, banned sales to under-sixteen year olds, required disclosure of ingredients, restricted smoking in indoor workplaces, banned tobacco advertising and sponsorship, and established the Health Sponsorship Council (now the Health Promotion Agency) to replace tobacco sponsorship.

A private members bill extended the Act in 1995. With policy advances also stemming from the 2011 government inquiry into the impact of smoking on Māori, New Zealand continues to have among the most advanced tobacco control measures in the world.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/300087854/helen-clark-new-zealands-smokefree-gains-among-my-proudest-achievements-but-theres-more-work-to-do

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