The message behind World Smokefree Day

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Health promoters are telling smokers to think about the impact their habit has on their family as an incentive to kick the habit this year.

The New Zealand World Smokefree Day message "it's about whanau", centres around protecting future generations by not exposing them to second-hand smoke or passing dangerous habits on to them.

Internationally, World Smokefree Day is known as World No Tobacco Day, and is celebrated annually on May 31. The global initiative aims to raise awareness around the health burden of smoking and reducing exposure to second-hand smoke especially to children.

The day is also aimed at non-smokers to encourage and support whānau to quit smoking. The protection of children and future generations is central to the smoke free kaupapa.

Increasing tobacco tax and banning the display of cigarettes at retailers have proven successful in lowering the rates of smokers in New Zealand. Since 2010, the proportion of people smoking in New Zealand has fallen to a record low 17 per cent. A total drop of 23 per cent over that period.

A number of cafes and restaurants around the country are already smoke free and hope that others will follow. The government has promised to introduce plain packaging into New Zealand and health promoters are targeting smoking in cars as the next area of focus with the goal of achieving Smokefree 2025.

Cancer Society of New Zealand's Medical Director Chris Jackson said as the leading cause of lung cancer, smoking needed to be a major health focus.

"Smoking is the most important preventable cause of cancer. If we are going to meet the Smokefree 2025 target, we are going to have to pick up the pace of helping kiwis quit."

In New Zealand, lung cancer accounts for 18.9 per cent of all deaths from cancer, making it the leading cause of cancer-related deaths - smoking being the leading cause of lung cancer.

Australia already has plain packaging in place and the UK introduced the law this month. Plain packaging aims to reduce the uptake of smoking by young people.

Plain Packs information
• The Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill was introduced into parliament in December 2013
• It had its first reading February 2014, went to Select Committee which reported back August 2014
• Awaiting second reading, with main reason for delay concern of legal action by Tobacco industry, and wanting to see outcome of challenges to Australia's introduction of Plain Packaging laws
• Dec 15 Tobacco Companies lost first legal challenge against Australia. Still awaiting WTO challenge outcome
• February 2016, Prime Minister John Key states he expects NZ to pass the legislation soon, by the end of the year. No progression has been evident
• Internationally a number of other countries have now introduced or enacted Plain Packaging legislation:
o Australia, United Kingdom: have enacted legislation (UK as of May this year)
o NZ, France, Ireland, Canada, Malaysia, Norway, Turkey; Considering or introduced Plain Packs legislation
• Evidence from Australia indicates PP is working to reduce uptake of smoking by young people

- Bay of Plenty Times

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