New Zealand - Maori affairs committee continues to gather information..

March 23, 2010 - Back on September 23, 2009 the Maori Affairs parliamentary select committee announced it would hold an inquiry into the impact of tobacco use on Maori. [The inquiry of this select committee is ongoing.] (The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, they are Polynesian and comprise about 14 percent of the country's population.)

Tauranga General Practice physician Dr. Jethro LeRoy in a written submission, says smoking is the biggest cause of health disparities between Maori and non-Maori. (To the Māori Affairs Select Committee, Chair – Tau Henare MP. (Tauranga City is the centre of the fifth largest urban area in New Zealand, with an urban population of 118,200 (June 2009 estimate))

A Christchurch company selling cheap high-nicotine cigarettes faces a grilling before a Government select committee on smoking. Maori MP (member of parliament) Hone Harawira said he would be asking the NZ Tobacco Group to appear before a Maori Affairs select committee hearing on the tobacco industry in Christchurch in about six weeks.

The business, based in Papanui offices, distributes two cigarette brands, Ashford and Easy, said to be big sellers in low socio-economic areas. The Press found 20-cigarette Easy packs being sold in Christchurch stores for as little as $7.70, and about $9 for the Ashford brand. All convenience stores contacted by The Press stocked at least one of the brands. The average cost of a Dunhill or Benson & Hedges pack is about $12. Figures show the nicotine content of Ashford Full Flavour is 1.25 milligrams compared with 0.9mg for Benson & Hedges Classic and 0.8mg for Dunhill Premier. NZ Tobacco company records show it imported about 2.5 million Easy Full Flavour cigarettes and 3.2 million Ashford Full Flavour into New Zealand in 2007.

Tobacco-related illness kills about 5000 Kiwis, including 600 Maori, a year. The Canterbury District Health Board says the mortality rate for Canterbury Maori is 45 per cent higher than non-Maori.

MP Hone Harawira: "I'm bloody horrified, but not surprised at their tactics," he said. "There's now overwhelming support from New Zealanders to get rid of tobacco in this country and companies are doing their best to hook as many people as possible now, so they're lowering prices and upping nicotine and marketing into places like Aranui and Otara." "What they are doing is maximising their profit before their demise and they don't care that they're killing New Zealanders to achieve it," he

References: Grilling due over cheap cigarettes by REBECCA TODD, stuff, (The Press), 3/20/2010; Family tells of smoking death pain
By Martin Johnston,, 3/12/2010; Smoking a key risk factor for Maori oral health, Press Release: Smokefree Coalition, SCOOP, Health, 3/10/2010.

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