Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark is slamming Government inaction over eradicating smoking in less than 10 years, saying it is likely to take decades.
The former UN head has just been appointed patron for anti-smoking lobby group ASH.
In a hard-hitting editorial published in today's New Zealand Herald Clark calls for urgent political action to achieve a smokefree country by 2025.
She said it was unlikely the Government would be able to accomplish a society of non-smokers within eight years, which threatened to impact another generation of lives lost to smoking-related diseases.
"Despite New Zealand having the Smokefree 2025 goal, progress is still too slow. At the current rate of progress it will take us 30 years to become smokefree," said Clark.
Clark said it was time for politicians to pull together and make it a matter of urgency.
"If our politicians don't make this a priority, don't act on the evidence and don't stand up together against the tobacco industry, we will be mourning lives lost to tobacco for another generation."
She also urged people who had lost someone to tobacco or fighting addiction and all who wanted their children to not start smoking to add their voice.
"Tell today's political leaders that we need urgent action", Clark said.
"We have the potential for every child born in New Zealand this decade to grow up free from tobacco. That's a legacy we could all celebrate."
Chairman and ASH founder emeritus professor Robert Beaglehole praised Clark for her hardline stance saying progress to become a smokefree society by 2025 was far too slow.
"Despite this world leading goal, progress is glacial. Six years after the goal was set there is still no national plan to achieve it," he said.
In some communities there was only eight years left to get smoking down from 40 to 5 per cent in some communities.
"No politician would deny that smoking kills and ASH is calling for them to unite around the urgent actions, including a national strategy, to achieve the goal. Procrastination is costing lives," said Beaglehole.