24 Sep 2009

Tobacco ban not on the cards - National

8:11 am on 24 September 2009

The National Party says it is willing to look at ways to reduce smoking but will not go as far as some Maori Party proposals that include a ban on smoking.

The industry is in the firing line of the Maori Affairs Select Committee, which has announced it will hold an inquiry into the impact of tobacco on Maori.

Ministry of Health officials told the committee that 46% of Maori are regular smokers compared to 21% of non-Maori.

The committee's deputy chairman, Maori Party MP Hone Harawira, says one aim of the inquiry is to create a clear public record of the damage caused by tobacco.

He is frank in his views on the tobacco industry, saying he wants to "lynch the bastards" for promoting an addiction that kills.

The Maori Party is pushing for a total ban on smoking and on smoking displays, as well as higher taxes on tobacco products.

National says it is willing to look at some reforms, but is unlikely to adopt all the proposals.

Nicotine cartridge sales considered

Ministry of Health officials are considering whether to allow the sale of nicotine cartridges for cigarette-like devices, which are currently banned.

At the committee session on Wednesday, the chairman, National MP Tau Henare, asked why nicotine cartridges for a device he used successfully to stop smoking could not be sold in New Zealand.

The ministry's senior analyst on tobacco control, Brendan Baker, said the safety of the propylene-glycol base is being assessed, and officials are considering whether there is a risk they would be attractive to young people.