of Otago, 5 August 2016
Sweeping changes to the Smokefree Environments legislation are
proposed by University of Otago researchers in a newly published
article in the New Zealand Medical Journal.
The researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington,
propose a comprehensive new law including positive strategies that
are needed to help New Zealand reach its Smokefree 2025 goal. They
argue that because of inadequate action by successive New Zealand
governments, the Smokefree 2025 goal is unlikely to be achieved
without effective new measures and a new law.
Public health lawyer and lead researcher Louise Delany says that
the proposed law is unique in its focus on the tobacco industry, on
the tobacco products, and its alignment with international law.
"The proposed new law would ensure that actions are taken so
that the Smokefree 2025 goal of minimal tobacco use benefits all
New Zealanders, including Māori and Pacific peoples," says Ms
"The law would state that, if specific prevalence reduction
targets for 2020 are not reached, permission to sell tobacco would
be transferred to 'not for profit' or health agencies. These
agencies would be required by law to reduce sales," she says.
The University of Otago, Wellington, researchers propose that a
new authority within the Ministry of Health would be responsible
for developing plans to achieve these targets and monitoring their
They also suggest that the new law would set minimum tobacco
prices and enable better monitoring and control of tobacco industry
profits, regulate product design, and reduce or remove particular
constituents in tobacco products. Such constituents could include
those that increase addictiveness, palatability and attractiveness
of cigarettes such as nicotine levels, sugars, menthol and other
"The design of tobacco products is currently left up to the
tobacco industry with no controls at all," says Public Health
Professor Richard Edwards.
"This law would ensure that children and young people
experimenting with cigarettes would be likely to find them less
appealing, not so attractive to smoke and less addictive; and fewer
would become regular smokers," Professor Edwards says.
A focus on the tobacco industry would ensure greater
transparency and accountability for the industry's marketing,
research, and profits. Provisions for the control of tobacco and
nicotine supply would include the licensing of importers,
wholesalers and retailers.
Another of the researchers, Professor Nick Wilson, pointed out
that at present a 10-year old shop assistant can legally sell
tobacco products in a dairy, and no licenses are required to sell
tobacco products even if the dairy is located next to a school.
"This new law would enable government to properly control a
dangerous addictive product, as it does for other dangerous
products and for prescription medicines," says Professor
The proposed law would recognise that successful strategies such
as raising tobacco prices and mass media campaigns would continue,
and be enhanced. Such measures would support provisions in the new
Act aiming to further promote smokefree environments (for example
outdoor areas such as playgrounds) and for vehicles with young
In the same issue of the New Zealand Medical
Journal, another study from the University of Otago,
Wellington describes recent smoking trends, and shows that New
Zealand will not reach SF2025 with a 'business as usual' approach.
This study finds that the Ministry of Health is set to fail against
its 2018 interim goals for Māori and Pacific smoking. One of the
authors, Jude Ball commented "We need really bold action to make a
difference in our Māori and Pacific communities, and the new legal
framework being proposed could be exactly what's required."
The abstracts for these two articles will be available on
the ASPIRE2025 website, or contact the authors for