Delamere Disappointed at High NZ Smoking Rate

  • John Delamare
Associate Minister of Health

Associate Health Minister, Hon Tuariki Delamere, said today he was disappointed at the latest figures from the Ministry of Health which show there has been a slight increase in New Zealanders' consumption of tobacco over the past two years.

This reverses the previous seven-year trend of a consistent fall in tobacco use.

"I am particularly concerned that Maori and young people aged between 15 and 34 are heavy smokers. Although there is some evidence of an improvement in this area, nearly one out of every two Maori over the age of 15 still smokes. Here, I wish to commend the example being set by my colleague, the minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Tau Henare, Equally, I am concerned that female lung cancer rates continue to rise."

The Minister said these figures mean the Ministry is unlikely to meet its target of reducing the number of New Zealanders who smoke from 26% to 20% by the year 2000.

Four and a half thousand New Zealanders die each year from smoking-related diseases, more than from homicide, drowning, suicide, AIDS and road crashes combined.

A report from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research, released today, has confirmed that nicotine levels in New Zealand- manufactured cigarettes are 1.4 times higher than their North American counterparts.

Mr Delamere said the Government was committed to reducing the smoking rates of New Zealand and the $11.5 million smokefree strategy that began in 1996 will continue to run until 1999.

He said the Ministry of Health was also preparing advice on other anti-smoking measures, including stronger health and consumer information on tobacco packaging.