MidCentral DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Robert Weir said World Smokefree Day was about empowering our communities, especially our Māori and Pacific communities, to lead healthier, longer lives and support their whānau to do the same.
“All of us, especially young people, are influenced by those around us, so if we don’t see people smoking, we are less likely to smoke ourselves,” Dr Weir said.
Aotearoa has come a long way in its smokefree journey. Banning tobacco sponsorship and advertising, outlawing the sale of single cigarettes and recent plain packaging laws have all helped reduce smoking rates.
However, evidence shows Aotearoa at its current rate will not achieve its aspirational goal of becoming a smokefree country by 2025 without a concerted effort.
“More and more New Zealanders are becoming smokefree or not taking up smoking at all,” Dr Weir said. “The most recent tobacco-use figures show 84 per cent of New Zealanders do not smoke, which is four per cent more than in 2008. Importantly, fewer young people are starting to smoke with 96 per cent of 15-to-17-year-olds staying smokefree, which is a marked increase from 84 per cent a decade ago.”
The number of totally smokefree workplaces is also increasing, with more businesses going over and above the legal requirements by declaring all workspaces – including work vehicles and outdoor areas – to be smokefree, and helping employees access stop smoking support. Local authorities are also showing strong leadership by declaring public places, spaces and events to be smokefree.
“All this action is creating an evironment where being smokefree is normal, whether it’s in public, at work, or at home with whānau.”
MidCentral DHB Health Promotion Advisor Julie Beckett said the regional stop smoking team TOAM (Te Ohu Auahi Mutunga ) would attend a promotional event in Palmerston North’s Te Marae o Hine - The Square at midday on Monday.
“Palmerston North is just one area of New Zealand but similar events are happening all around the country. Collectively it all moves the country closer to the Government’s goal of Smokefree Aotearoa 2025,” Ms Beckett said.
“We are encouraged by new laws prohibiting smoking and vaping in cars with children, which comes into effect on 28 November. At the heart of this law change is our aim of protecting tamariki from the harmful effects of second hand smoke.
“Please come down to Te Marae o Hine on Monday to learn more about the benefits of being smokefree or to find information and resources on how to give up smoking.”
People can self-refer to TOAM on 0800 40 50 11 or can be referred through the hospitals or GP. For more information, visit the Smokefree website.