Iwi push to stop Maori smoking

Iwi-based support providers are helping a disproportionate number of Maori smokers in Hawke's Bay to kick the habit.

About 5000 New Zealanders die annually from smoking-related illnesses.

On top of local cessation providers, Maori-specific health providers Te Kupenga Hauora and Te Taiwhenua O Heretaunga have been helping Hawke's Bay Maori give up.

Local Iwi Ngati Kahungunu had been implementing a region-wide strategy to help save lives, Te Ao Hurihuri director Shane Bradbrook said. Rather than settle for smokefree, they were having all marae-based events tobacco-free.

"If you're a smoker, using tikanga approaches, you have to leave your tobacco off premises, which is quite innovative. Coupled with that is having full quit support there for people who require it."

Quitline received 41,738 calls to August 31 this year from Kiwi smokers keen to kick the habit. In the year to date, 1504 people have registered with Quitline in Hawke's Bay, compared with 1513 by the same time last year.

About 135 people from the Bay district registered with Quitline in August, compared with 275 in January. Spokeswoman Jane MacPherson said January saw Quitline's highest call volumes as a result of New Year's resolutions and people wanting to make a "fresh start". Price increases had also convinced people to quit.

"People effectively cannot afford it [any more]."

Cigarettes in New Zealand are among the most expensive in the OECD, and tobacco excise taxes will continue to rise.

Tobacco retail displays were banned from July 23 this year. Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said law changes had removed a "loophole" for them: "We're not going to tolerate this any longer."

British American Tobacco New Zealand last month launched a media campaign in response to the Government's plan to strip all branding from cigarette packs to make them less attractive to smokers.

The Government has set a goal of making New Zealand smokefree by 2025. It is considering other steps, including halting duty-free sales, licensing retailers and banning sales within 1km of schools.

In 1983, the prevalence of smoking in New Zealand was 35 per cent. Now it is under 18 per cent.APNZ

- Hawkes Bay Today

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