Smokefree NZ within 10 years ..

September 5, 2007 - Smokefree NZ within 10 years - ASH At the Oceania Tobacco Control Conference in Auckland today anti-smoking campaigners are calling for New Zealand to be cigarette free within 10 years. The priority was to get rid of cigarettes and smoked tobacco. Among steps they advocated were the removal of retail displays, plain packaged cigarettes, increased tax on tobacco products, more support for people quitting, more alternatives to cigarettes and the staged removal of cigarettes from sale. ASH NZ director Ben Youdan said their priority was getting rid of cigarettes and smoked tobacco by looking for alternatives, especially for those most addicted. Mr. Youdan is making a unfortunate public health mistake - the goal should be to remove all tobacco products. Most likely, public health officials in New Zealand when discussing tobacco avoidance speak in terms of smoking tobacco (e.g. in children) since by law, oral snuff cannot be sold in New Zealand and can be imported only for personal use. (See related Newsbrief: March 29, 2007.) Some public health officials are telling people how safe this smokeless tobacco alternative is and you can still get the same amounts of nicotine (perhaps even more) and much lesser chance of developing a disease. The populations these officials are targeting are inveterate (hard-nosed, long established, deep-rooted) cigarette smokers that refuse to consider trying to quit smoking tobacco. For example, Dr. Brad Rodu and William T. Godshall, M.P.H. paper in the December 2006 issue of the Harm Reduction Journal entitled, "Tobacco Harm Reduction: An Alternate Cessation Strategy for Inveterate Smokers," or Dr. Carol Gartner and colleagues paper in the June 16, 2007 issue of The Lancet concluded that SNUS could produce a net health benefit in inveterate smokers. We have no problem trying to convince inveterate smokers to use SNUS. But it would be impossible to limit distribution of smokeless tobacco products to these inveterate tobacco smokers. Tobacco companies have an entirely different goal in mind – they are already targeting a much younger crowd of young adults and any kids they can entice along the way - witness the tagline for Camel SNUS: "Pleasure for wherever." Another example: Cathryn Cushing, a specialist with the Oregon's Tobacco Prevention and Education Program, "I see it as a young adult marketing strategy, and we have a lot of hip young adults in this city," Cushing said. And "if it appeals to a 22-year-old, I think you can assume it will appeal to a 16-year-old. Because what do 16-year-olds want to be? Twenty-two" (The Oregonian, 1/7/2007) Or a comment from Mitch Zeller, health policy consultant who was director of the Office of Tobacco Programs at the FDA during the Clinton Administration, said the web site for Camel Snus "seems aimed at young adult males to get them to start using products." The site says Reynolds found Snus in Sweden, "home of the world's best meatballs, massage and blondes." Public health leaders in New Zealand have good intentions but if they don't avoid the use of smokeless tobacco products they'll end with a generation of nicotine addicts - never able to reach their full potential. Never, never introduce another tobacco product that has already been banned for use in your country.( 9-6-2007 - Three influential health organisations say Australia could be smoke-free in a decade with full government commitment.