New Zealand - Maori committee to investigate smoking..

September 25, 2009 - Tobacco kills 5,000 Kiwis (New Zealanders) every single year, more than 100,000 New Zealanders in the last 25 years alone. It’s time New Zealanders held those people responsible for these tobacco deaths, accountable for their actions. While a quarter of all New Zealanders smoke, nearly half of Maori (about 16% of population) do, and a third (650 to 1000) of Maori deaths a year are due to tobacco.

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira announced today, September 23rd the Maori Affairs parliamentary select committee would hold an inquiry into the impact of tobacco use on Maori. The committee would talk to "everybody, before we get to the tobacco companies", Mr Harawira said. There was a "very clear public record" of the serious negative effects of tobacco and the companies selling it must front up to the public, he said. (Maori Party drawing up a bill to ban smoking anywhere in New Zealand,,2/22/2006)

Video interview with Maori Party MP Hone Harawira..

Maori Party co-leader and Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia told reporters a ban would be difficult but displays should be outlawed and tax on tobacco raised. "I'm already talking to the Government about those matters ... I think we're progressing." (Tobacco displays are a very devious and very potent form of marketing a killer product, normalising cigarettes in the eyes of vulnerable kids, and hooking them into buying smokes from a very young age; and banning displays works – we know that because when they did it in Saskatchewan, smoking rates actually dropped 25% in just 6 years.)

The announcement of the inquiry follows figures released to the committee early today by the Ministry of Health showing Maori women have the highest smoking prevalence (49.3 percent) followed by Maori men (41.5 percent). Young Maori were more likely to smoke and second-hand smoke exposure was higher among Maori than non-Maori.

Shane Bradbrook, Te Reo Marama director, said it was time for the tobacco industry to be accountable. There was no other industry operating in New Zealand or internationally that killed so many people and Maori were suffering out of proportion, he said.

The inquiry will look at the historical promotion of tobacco to Maori, the impact on Maori health, economic, social and cultural wellbeing, development aspirations, any benefits Maori received from tobacco use and what policy and legislative measures were needed. The inquiry will start in February. Submissions will close on January 29.

Reference: Harawira wants to smoke out tobacco company bosses, NZPA (New Zealand Press Association), 9/23/2009;
Tobacco Under Fire, Scoop Independent News, 9/23/2009; Maori committee to investigate smoking "This is a war against people who kill New Zealanders", NZPA, Dominion Post, 9/23/2009.

New Zealand related news briefs:
New Zealand - Tairawhiti Board wants tobacco sold only on prescription..;
New Zealand - health researchers calling on government to ban importation of tobacco..;
New Zealand - 1st trial ever of e-cigarettes..;
New Zealand - BAT reducing prices discouraging people from quitting..;
New Zealand - stop smoking campaigns NOT working..;
BAT awarded worst corporation in New Zealand..;
New Zealand - government may NOT support tobacco display bans..;
New Zealand More Evidence Needed to Ban Tobacco and Cigarette Displays..;
More evidence - tobacco displays increase the risk of teens smoking..;
Horror photos go on New Zealand cigarette packs..;
Country to Eliminate Smoking - The South Pacific nation of Niue;
Ireland to ban tobacco displays..;
Smokefree NZ within 10 years..;
By law, oral snuff cannot (but nasal snuff is allowed) be sold in New Zealand and can be imported only for personal use..

Image - the Maori logo..