The new Prime Minister has repeatedly said the Government is committed to addressing the tobacco epidemic and that it will follow the evidence; both coalition agreements declare decisions will be “based on data and evidence”. Yet, one of the coalition government’s proposed actions – to repeal the world-leading smokefree legislation – runs directly contrary to evidence and will ensure smoking continues to cost thousands of lives and millions of health care dollars. Prime Minister Luxon could yet display strong leadership by retaining legislation that will end the smoking epidemic.
What is new in this Briefing
- The newly formed coalition Government has outlined their intention to make decisions based on evidence yet has simultaneously indicated they will repeal the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Act.
- The evidence clearly supports the current smokefree legislation and predicts it drastically reduce smoking rates and bring major health gains, particularly for Māori.
- Arguments the government has adduced for removing the legislation are weak, inconsistent with robust research evidence, and will bring neither health nor overall economic benefits.
Implications for public health policy
- The Prime Minister has a crucial opportunity to show leadership by drawing on the strong evidence, revising the coalition agreement, and protecting the smokefree legislation.