May 11 2012
The Heart Foundation congratulates the New Zealand government for its decision to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products in New Zealand.
In December Australia will become the first country in the world to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products. Our Government has agreed in principle to follow suit.
This measure is not aimed at smokers – but at children and teenagers. Almost all smokers in NZ start when they are young. Packages are designed to appeal to youngsters wanting to look grown up and sophisticated. The tobacco manufacturers know they need to keep on attracting children and young people or the numbers of smokers will drop to unprofitable levels.
The Heart Foundation totally supports this government’s goal for a tobacco free NZ by 2025. To reach the target New Zealand needs to make it easier for smokers to quit and less attractive for young people to start.
Tobacco kills 5,000 New Zealanders every year. Around half of regular smokers will die from tobacco related illness – many more will have their health and their lives seriously damaged. Cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death in New Zealand. Reducing the number of young people who take up smoking is probably the most effective tool NZ has to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease – particularly for Maori and Pacific people.
There will be a public consultation process on the proposed change. We’d like you to sharpen your pencils and get ready to support this legislation.