Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Smokefree lobbyists face chop

The Smokefree Coalition will close next month. Photo / Getty Images
The Smokefree Coalition will close next month. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand's biggest anti-smoking lobby groups face likely closure after a Government decision to slash funding for anti-smoking advocacy.

The Smokefree Coalition will close next month, Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) faces closure unless it can find new funding sources, and Smokefree Nurses Aotearoa and Pacific anti-smoking agency Tala Pasifika have all lost their funding from this week.

Instead, the Ministry of Health has awarded a single national anti-smoking advocacy contract to West Auckland-based Maori health agency Hapai Te Hauora.

Total funding for national advocacy has been cut from $1.7 million to $450,000.

Ministry service commissioning director Jill Lane said the funding cut from advocacy would be redirected into "strengthening our frontline cessation services with improved training to get better quit results".

The training budget has jumped from $286,000 to $1.6 million, lifting total spending on advocacy and training from $2.26 million to $2.37 million.

Ms Lane said the ministry's total spending on tobacco control, including the Quitline service, was $61 million.

Smokefree Coalition director Dr Prudence Stone said her coalition's work would end on July 21.

Ash director Stephanie Erick said her agency had reserves to keep going for another six to 12 months. "Either we get some more philanthropic funding or we wind down."

- NZ Herald

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