Last month, a number of health entities in New Zealand voiced their disappointment at the fact that there was still no action plan in place to achieve the ambitious national goal of Smokefree 2025. “Back in 2011 when Smokefree 2025 was launched, it was viewed as doable albeit requiring serious and deliberate government programmes and intervention. However, nine years on we’re still sadly miles off,” said Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) co-director Nancy Loucas.
Similarly, chief executive for Northland DHB and public health lead for the 20 local DHBs Nick Chamberlain, had reiterated that the Māori population seriously lags behind in decreasing smoking rates. “We won’t get to a smokefree New Zealand unless we have a smokefree Nick Chamberlain, and that won’t occur till 2060 at the current rates,” he said.
NZ’s health minister commended for consulting with a number of entities
Finally, earlier this month the Smokefree plan was launched. New Zealand’s Associate Health Minister Dr. Ayesha Verrall, was commended for engaging with a number of health entities to gather opinions about the right action plan. These included organisations, services, advocates, academics, researchers and individuals who have left a mark on their communities.
Loucas said that ministerial diary records show that Dr. Verrall held teleconferences ahead of releasing the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan discussion document for public consultation. The consulted groups included ASH, Hapai te Hauora, and the NZ College of Physicians.
The co-director added that the fact that these groups were consulted is a positive sign, as they are aware of the role that safer nicotine alternatives can play in reducing smoking rates. “These groups are very supportive of vaping’s key role in smoking cessation. It’s very encouraging then that Dr. Verrall is prepared to listen to their on the ground experiences before she finalizes her smokefree action plan.”
The Smokefree action plan released on Ministry of Health’s website
In a release on its website, the Ministry of Health said they are focusing on the following six game-changing areas:
- “Making sure there is Māori leadership and decision-making across all levels of the action plan. As part of this focus area, we’re standing up a taskforce to make sure the action plan is on track to achieve the smokefree goal for Māori.
- Funding more health promotion and community activities to motivate and mobilise people across the country to get behind the smokefree goal and to sign-post support for people on their quit journey.
- Giving people the wrap-around support they need on their quit journey by investing in more tailored help such as a stop smoking service for Pacific communities.
- Making it easier to quit and harder to become addicted by only having low-level nicotine smoked tobacco products for sale and restricting product design features that increase their appeal and addictiveness.
- Making smoked tobacco products harder to buy by reducing the number of shops selling them and kickstarting a smokefree generation.
- Making sure the tobacco industry and retailers follow the law.”
The plan of course aims to decrease smoking rates and tobacco-related diseases via the following outcomes:
- “The first is eliminating inequities in smoking rates and smoking-related illnesses. People living in the most deprived areas of Aotearoa suffer much more from the negative impacts of smoked tobacco. We need to change this because we need all communities to reach Smokefree 2025.
- The second outcome is to ensure our tamariki and rangatahi never start smoking and remain smokefree. We can support them to make the right choices by helping their parents, whānau, and the adults around them to quit smoking.
- The third outcome is to increase the number of people who successfully quit smoking. It’s hard to stop smoking and it’s time to change the smoking environment so we can make it easier for people who smoke to quit.”