Sharechat Logo

Tobacco is not essential for life - ARFNZ

Friday 27th March 2020

Text too small?

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) is outraged by a government decision declaring the tobacco industry as essential during the COVID-19 lockdown, and are calling for the decision to be reversed immediately.

The Imperial Tobacco factory in Petone, Lower Hutt, has received permission from the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) to remain open during the nationwide Stage 4 lockdown, despite almost all other non-essential New Zealand businesses being required to close.

Tobacco smoking kills around 5000 New Zealanders each year, which is at odds with MBIE’s initial statement that only businesses deemed "essential for the provision of life" remain open. Cigarettes do not provide life, says Professor Richard Edwards, public health physician and Scientific Advisory Board member of the Foundation, but actually shorten life for most long-term smokers.

"Smoking is an ongoing health emergency," says Richard, who is also co-director of ASPIRE 2025 Research for Tobacco Free Aotearoa. "This decision is particularly unfortunate given the emerging evidence that COVID-19 infections may be more severe among smokers, and flies in the face of the Government’s commitment to achieve a Smokefree Aotearoa.

Richard says it is outrageous that a tobacco factory whose products are likely to contribute to making the effects of the epidemic worse is deemed essential, while stores that provide truly essential services, like local greengrocers, are forced to close.

"A healthier, more beneficial way for Government to help smokers would be to subsidise over-the-counter nicotine replacements in pharmacies, supermarkets, and petrol stations or, ideally, make them available free of charge," says Richard.

Letitia Harding, ARFNZ Chief Executive, says the Foundation is calling on MBIE to reverse this decision and instead promote the health and well-being of New Zealanders.

"This effectively prioritises the interests of the tobacco industry over retailers that provide a useful service," says Letitia, "It is extremely disappointing to see this supported by the Ministry.

"We understand and empathise with people who are still dependent on nicotine, and that the current lockdown will be incredibly stressful for many people. However, for smokers who feel able to, especially those with respiratory health problems, we urge them to take this opportunity to quit smoking.

"Quitline has many online resources providing advice and support for smokers wishing to quit, and pharmacies remain open for anyone seeking quit smoking aids.

"Let’s make the best of a bad situation, and make the Aotearoa we return to closer to being Smokefree."

Source: Asthma and Respiratory Foundation

  General Finance Advertising    

Comments from our readers

No comments yet

Add your comment:
Your name:
Your email:
Not displayed to the public
Comments to Sharechat go through an approval process. Comments which are defamatory, abusive or in some way deemed inappropriate will not be approved. It is allowable to use some form of non-de-plume for your name, however we recommend real email addresses are used. Comments from free email addresses such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc may not be approved.

Related News:

Good Spirits Hospitality Limited (NZX: GSH) Half Year Results to 31 Dec 2020
NZ Automotive Investments Limited (NZX: NZA) FY21 Earnings Guidance
T&G Global Limited (NZX: TGG) 2020 Full Year Results
Vista Group International Limited (NZX: VGL) Vista Group in the Box Seat for the Future of Movies
Private Land and Property Fund (NZX: PLP) Change in Harvest Estimates
Allied Farmers Limited (NZX: ALF) FY21 Half Year Report
New Zealand Rural Land Company Limited (NZX: NZL) Interim Report to 31 December 2020
Seeka Limited (NZX: SEK) Announces its 31 December 2020 Result
Evolve Education Group Limited (NZX: EVO) Announces Results for Year Ended 31 December 2020
Port of Tauranga Limited (NZX: POT) Reports Improved Profits

IRG See IRG research reports