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Smokefree 2025 Action Plan A World First.

The Future Smokefree Generation is less likely to become addicted. 

Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall launched Auahi Kore Aotearoa Mahere Rautaki 2025, the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan, on December 9th 2021.

This means that young people who are 14 now, will soon never be able to legally buy tobacco under the new legislation. There will also be a lowering of nicotine in cigarettes, and a reduction in outlets to 500 permitted sellers. 

It's a plan that's bold and brave because it makes smoking less enticing, it changes social norms and discourages supply. It’s a plan that will protect a whole future generation of would be smokers from tobacco harm, and what a great way to phase out sales entirely.

The proposals actioned are evidence based and aim to

  • reduce adolescent smoking uptake
  • increase quit rates
  • help those who have quit from relapsing 
  • reduce health inequities. 

The time really is now, to put a stop to a highly addictive consumer product proven to have disastrous health consequences from being seen as a normal, readily available product that can be easily purchased alongside groceries and goodies in almost every dairy, gas station and supermarket.

Reducing the 6 to 8 thousand outlets down to around 500 and only permitting specialised stores who are less likely to profit from tobacco sales, discourages supply and gets cigarettes off more shelves, out of sight and out of reach of our precious children. That’s going to be super great news for residents of disadvantaged neighbourhoods who are exposed to 4 times as many tobacco outlets than those living in more affluent neighbourhoods. 

Making the cigarettes that are still available way less appealing and less addictive by significantly lowering the nicotine content, will decrease the likelihood of kids experimenting, which means they’ll be less likely to take up regular smoking. 

The Smokefree 2025 Action Plan and the 356 million allocated for quit services and community action in the Government budget, shows that consideration has been given to ensure people who smoke are going to be supported to quit or move to other nicotine sources. It’s also aimed to prompt and support people who smoke, to quit, and decrease relapse among people who, having quit smoking, might occasionally smoke a cigarette.

Whilst there are concerns that young ones will just continue to get tobacco from older friends and family, this is another reason that funding and an increase in quit services is going to occur. We can support kids to make the right choices by helping their parents, whānau, and the adults around them to quit smoking. 

The plan is about harm reduction and saving the lives of 4 to 5 thousand people who die every year from tobacco related illness. There is oversight from a Māori task force to make sure changes are community led.  Engagement and co-creation with youth communities (especially Māori and Pacific communities) will help to ensure the policy is framed and implemented successfully.

Another concern often raised is that people who smoke may just smoke more often and more intensively. When very low nicotine content cigarettes elicit what’s known as compensatory smoking it typically lasts only for a few days because it’s so unsatisfying. As a result smokers often cut down on the number of cigarettes they smoke. 

People who smoke, and who can’t or don’t want to quit, should not be put off from choosing to switch to reduced harm nicotine delivery systems and products such as vaping, to deliver nicotine effectively. Vaping is already regulated so over 18’s can receive expert advice on switching at the point of purchase from their specialist vape retailer.

Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said “Vaping has a role as a quit tool.” She then went on to say “Nicotine containing vapes are a part of the solution.”

Messages should also importantly advise that it’s not the nicotine that’s the primary toxic element of tobacco.

Take a look at the following interesting quotes.

“Nicotine has been able to be removed from tobacco since the 1930’s. The planned nicotine reduction strategy builds on New Zealand and international research showing that if you take the nicotine out of tobacco there is no longer any point to smoking, particularly when ‘cleaner’ forms of nicotine are available through vaping and nicotine replacement therapy.” Dr Natalie Walker, Associate Professor in Population Health, Director of the Centre for Addiction Research, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland.

The following quote from an internal document from the British American Tobacco Company in June 1959 kind of says it all!  “To lower nicotine too much might end up destroying the nicotine habit in a large number of consumers and prevent it from ever being acquired by new smokers.”

Legislation will be passed next year so let's spread the word and get prepared! There’s a transition period so those who do smoke will have time to adapt and receive help between now and then. We are part of the solution. For more information on getting free professional help to quit smoking visit  www.quitnow.nz 


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