Radical policies needed if mid-point goal of 10 per cent national smoking rate by 2018 is to be achieved.
The Government has adopted a target of reducing the national smoking rate to 10 per cent and halving the Maori and Pacific rates by 2018.
However, a leading tobacco control researcher doubts the targets can be met - unless radical policies, such as much larger tax increases and much bigger smoke-free areas, are imposed.
The targets are "mid-point" goals on the way to achieving the Government's hopes for "essentially a smoke-free nation" by 2025. "Essentially smoke-free" has never been formally defined, but is generally taken to mean prevalence of less than 5 per cent, although some experts suggest 3 per cent.
The halving of the Pacific rate and near-halving of the Maori rate is based on these ethnic groups' 2009 smoking rates of 30 per cent and 44 per cent respectively.
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Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia told the Herald the mid-term target was in line with Australia's and "would see us broadly on track to meet the 2025 smoke-free goal".
"I have therefore decided that the Ministry [of Health] should adopt this target ..."
But Dr Marewa Glover, the director of the Centre for Tobacco Control Research at Auckland University, said that because the 2011/12 health survey found no statistically significant reduction in Maori and Pacific smoking rates, "I'm concerned at the current capacity to halve them by 2018. We definitely need something different to happen."