A parliamentary committee recommended Wednesday that New Zealand should crack down on the tobacco industry and aim to make the nation smoke free by 2025.
The government should outlaw smoking in cars and public places, ban tobacco displays in shops and force retailers to sell cigarettes in plain packaging, the Maori Affairs select committee said.
AdvertisementThe cross-party committee also said the tobacco industry should pay for addiction treatment such as nicotine patches and the government should lift the price of tobacco and reduce imports of the product.
"By increasing regulations regarding the supply of tobacco, we believe the government can reduce the death, illness, and harm tobacco causes in New Zealand society," the committee's report said.
The committee set out to examine ways of reducing tobacco use among Maori, New Zealand's indigenous people, 45 percent of whom smoke, more than twice the national average.
It said smoking quickly embedded itself as part of Maori culture after tobacco was introduced to New Zealand in the 1800s and Maori women now had one of the highest lung cancer rates in the world.
It also said smoking-related diseases led to the early deaths of Maori elders, preventing traditional knowledge from being passed on.
"(We) consider this loss a tragedy, and are determined to remove tobacco from our country?s future in order to preserve Maori culture for younger generations," the report said.
It said smoking was a broader issue of national significance and called for the government to halve the smoking rate in the next five years, with the aim of stamping out the habit altogether by 2025.
"By reducing children?s exposure to cigarettes, it is possible to significantly reduce their motivation to try smoking, making a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025 an achievable goal," it said.
The report said measures such as plain packaging, import reductions, bans on "covert" merchandising and making tobacco firms pay for nicotine replacement therapy would hit the industry's bottom line.
"By halving tobacco consumption by 2015, we would send a clear message that an industry that peddles a lethal product will no longer profit in our country," it said.
The Alliance of Australian Retailers, a lobby group set up to fight bans on tobacco displays in retail outlets, said the committee's recommendations were out of touch with reality.
"Limiting supply will only open up our country to a huge black market and organised crime," the association's Richard Green said.
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