New Zealand - Tairawhiti Board wants tobacco sold only on prescription..

August 28, 2009 - Tairawhiti District Health (TDH) Board will lobby the health minister to get tobacco classified so it can be sold only on prescription.

The Tairawhiti District Health (TDH) covers the Gisborne District serving a population of 45,000. Gisborne (Māori: Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa) is the name of the largest settlement within the Gisborne Region of northeastern New Zealand. District Health Boards (DHBs) in New Zealand are organisations established by the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000, responsible for ensuring the provision of health and disability services to populations within a defined geographical area. They have existed since 1 January 2001 when the Act came into force.[1] There are 21 DHBs, 15 in the North Island and 6 in the South Island. DHBs receive public funding from the Ministry of Health on behalf of the Crown, based on a formula which takes into account the total number, age, socioeconomic status and ethnic mix of their population. Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the sun rise. Tairawhiti is the customary Maori name used to describe the coast upon which the sun shines across the water.

TDH is responsible for funding, providing and ensuring the provision of health services for those in need of personal health and disability services. This work is done in the community and from Gisborne Hospital, Ormond Rd, Gisborne.

TDH's role is three fold, namely Owner/Governance, Funder, and Provider of public health and disability services in the district. Our mission statement “Working together, to elevate the wellbeing of Tairawhiti."

A high level of smoking in the 2Gisborne-East Coast region led to huge public health bills and many diseases, and an active stance needed to be taken, said board member Brian Wilson. The board has supported Mr Wilson's recommendation to appeal to Health Minister Tony Ryall to have tobacco and nicotine sold only as a prescription drug. "Nicotine is often described as a toxic addictive drug. It seems incredible then, that it is not classified as such," said Mr Wilson in a report to the board. (Mr Wilson's paper was unanimously supported.)

"My suggestion is that discussions take place around the possibility of it becoming a prescription medicine. It would not be available for young people but could be supplied to adults that were already addicted to tobacco on prescription."

The board will contact the other 20 district health boards, and local MPs (Members of Parliament), to push the message and gather support. The message would be conveyed directly to the minister, Mr Wilson said. "At least then we can test if this thing can get any legs and if we can actually do something about it."

Huge resources had already been invested in trying to limit the number of people smoking, Mr Wilson said. "However, there is still a steady number of young people who take up the habit, resulting in a continuing burden on the health system to care for people with tobacco-related diseases.

"The feeble attempts to limit access by having the products in locked cabinets, restricted to certain age groups and controlling the display of it, have had only a small effect. "What is needed is a bolder approach that will seriously make a difference."

Preventing young people from starting smoking would be the main focus, he said.

Reference: DHB calls for tobacco to be prescription only, 8/26.2009.

2Cigarette smoking rate (for Gisborne and Hawke's Bay combined - refer to technical details before use) The proportion (%) of the population in the area aged 15 and over who currently smoke cigarettes.
Sex..... 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Male.... 27.7 25.8 31.7 26.2 35.5
Female.29.8 25.1 31.0 30.7 35.3
Total... 28.9 25.5 31.3 28.6 35.4

Image - City of Gisborne Coat-of-Arms - click to enlarge..

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