Delamere Delighted With Fall-off In Smoking

  • John Delamare
Associate Minister of Health

Associate Minister of Health, Hon Tuariki Delamere, said on the occasion of World No-tobacco Day, that he was thrilled at the latest figures on New Zealanders' consumption of tobacco.

Latest Ministry of Health figures show that tobacco consumption in New Zealand is at an all time low at 1371 cigarette equivalents per adult in 1998. The figures are based on the total amount of loose tobacco and manufactured cigarettes released for consumption last year.

This fall is believed to be at least partly caused by the tobacco excise increase in May 1998 of 50 cents per packet of 20 cigarettes.

The figures continue a downward trend of tobacco products released for consumption which has been apparent since 1976. The number of manufactured cigarettes released has also declined from 3449 million in 1997 to 3263 million last year.

Conversely, loose tobacco released for consumption per adult has increased between 1997 and 1998. Despite this, tobacco consumption overall has declined.

The percentage of New Zealanders who smoke continues its slight downwards trend - 25 percent in 1998, compared to 26 percent in 1996 and 1997 and 27 percent in 1992 to 1995. It appears that the New Zealanders who are smoking, tend to besmoking less.

"Regrettably, Maori smoking rates remain twice as high as rates for non Maori - 49 percent of Maori smoke compared to 23 percent of non-Maori. This has led to alarmingly high rates of lung cancer in Maori.

"In 1996, Maori men's lung cancer mortality rate was three times higher than for non-Maori men and Maori women's lung cancer mortality rate was four times the rate for non-Maori women," said Mr Delamere.

The Government commits considerable resources to a tobacco control strategy. The main elements of this comprehensive strategy are:

health education (for example the Why start? multimedia campaign, the smokefree schools programme)
legislation and enforcement (for example promoting smokefree environments, a ban on tobacco advertising,
strengthening health warnings on tobacco products, a ban on selling tobacco products to people under 18 years of age)
taxation of tobacco products
smokefree sponsorship of sporting and cultural events
smoking cessation services.
There is an increasing emphasis on Maori tobacco control initiatives.

Following the success of a pilot programme in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty, the Health Funding Authority recently launched a national 0800 manned quitline, which is teamed with a mass media campaign.

The mass media campaign includes hard-hitting television advertisements. Thirty percent of those who called the Quitline pilot programme were Maori.

Reaching Maori smokers is also a major objective of the national Quitline.

In addition, a pilot programme of nicotine replacement therapy for Maori, in conjunction with counselling, is currently underway. The three year Why start? multimedia campaign (which concludes at the end of June 1999) also has a strong focus on Maori. Twelve of the 20 commercials featured Maori and four of these were in te reo Maori.

The strengthened health warnings for display on tobacco products (from 1 January 2000) include a warning in Maori - Ka mate koe i te kai hikareti.

The Health Sponsorship Council's smokefree sponsorship is particularly targeted to Maori, young people, and women.