1 Jul 2010

Harawira over the moon about smoke-free support

8:21 pm on 1 July 2010

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira believes New Zealand is on the brink of becoming the first country in the world to go totally smoke-free.

Mr Harawira told Waatea News that the Maori Affairs Select Committee investigation of the tobacco industry, which has just wrapped up public hearings, exceeded his wildest expectations.

He says that the level of political, media and public support for the kaupapa is overwhelming, and that the committee will now prepare its report to parliament.

Mr Harawira says the committee is potentially one of the most powerful in the parliamentary system, and the right body for making the tobacco industry account for its actions.

Risk of black market argued

The committee has heard submissions recommending such major changes as banning displays of tobacco products and requiring plain packaging to hide branding.

A representative of the American tobacco company Philip Morris says however that hiding brand names risks opening up a black market in tobacco.

The company's New Zealand general manager, Martin Inkster, told the committee that it would also impede competition, as people would buy only the cheapest products.

Mr Inkster denies that Philip Morris targets youth, saying it just wants to increase its 5% market share.