By Chelsea Boyle
Making tobacco products more expensive to buy is a proven way to prod smokers into giving up the habit, Wairarapa list MP Marama Fox says.
The anti-smoking advocate said Quitline, the organisation that helps New Zealanders give up smoking tobacco products, received more calls when prices jumped up.
At the start of the year the cost of cigarettes rose 10 per cent, a move it will make annually until 2020.
It is a part of a bid to help New Zealand reach its 2025 target – to have fewer than 5 per cent of the population smoking.
“The ongoing impact on families with low income is the incentive to quit…” Ms Fox said.
“The cost to our families, through sicknesses and illness, exceeds the cost of cigarettes.
“If we can ensure our whanau have the right incentive and support to quit, then we can save our families the cost of the burden of illness and disease and the loss of our people through death.”
Ms Fox said she wants to see more voluntary smoke free communities in New Zealand.
She credited stores that refused to sell cigarettes as making “a brave move”.
“A number of vendors around the country have chosen not to go there, they see the benefits in the lives of their families, and they don’t want to be providing cigarettes for our whanau.”
Ms Fox believes we are on track to meet the 2025 goal, which she said has already been achieved in certain areas.
“We are already meeting that target in a number of communities, sadly, not Maori communities overall.
“The numbers of Maori smoking are coming down, it is slower than the rest of the population but it is continuing to decrease.”
Ms Fox said vaping and e-cigarettes should be used as reduced harm measures, encouraging people to ditch smoking cigarettes.
“We want to be careful when the introduction of this comes through… not to be enticing young people into something that looks cool,” she said.
Ms Fox said they should be a “cessation product first and foremost”.