The minister responsible for tobacco control, Tariana Turia, wants smoking banned in cars and will push for other tough policies to encourage the virtual end of smoking in New Zealand.

In her first interview since she announced last week that the Government would introduce legislation to ban retail displays of tobacco, the Associate Health Minister and Maori Party co-leader yesterday outlined to the Herald the measures she wants brought in to save lives by reducing smoking.

Her public-health agenda may be several steps ahead of the National Party Cabinet, but she has already got her way on big tobacco tax increases and retail displays and has won support to explore Australia's plans for plain packaging of tobacco products.

"I would have very much liked to ban smoking in cars," she said. "Some people feel it's going a little too far, telling people what to do in their own private vehicles.

"The concern that I have got is quite often you see vehicles travelling along and they have got children in them and people smoking. If people aren't going to use common sense and don't understand ... that smoking in vehicles means children are passively smoking, or other people in the car are passively smoking, if they don't understand the impact on the health and wellbeing of their family, I have no difficulty in introducing legislation to prevent that from happening."

Her comments and the display-ban plans follow last week's release by the Maori affairs committee of its report on tobacco and the effects of smoking on Maori.

The report provides a comprehensive set of proposals to fulfil the committee's aim of New Zealand becoming smoke-free - a place where virtually no one smokes - by 2025.

The recommendations included investigating banning smoking in cars and requiring tobacco companies to pay for medicines that help people to quit smoking, including nicotine replacement therapy.

Mrs Turia said yesterday she wanted the industry to be required pay for NRT patches, gum and lozenges.

"I don't see why they shouldn't; otherwise the taxpayer is expected to pick up the cost. I'm certainly looking at that.

"I think it's something we should be considering."

She hopes to have the legislation to ban retail displays introduced to Parliament before Christmas. She is negotiating with the Leader of the House, Gerry Brownlee, about options for its speedy progress, such as sending it to a select committee but not having another round of public consultation, because people have already had the opportunity to comment on the policy at the Maori affairs committee and through a Health Ministry consultation on banning displays.

Mrs Turia was disappointed by Prime Minister John Key's cold response to the committee's proposal for the Government to set 2025 as the smoke-free New Zealand target date.

She said: "It couldn't come soon enough, if we were able to do it."