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Advancing the endgame for the tobacco pandemic

Advancing the endgame for the tobacco pandemic: Hāpai Te Hauora backs new research to achieve Smokefree 2025.

https://www.nzdoctor.co.nz/un-doctored/2017/june-2017/29/Advancing-the-endgame-for-the-tobacco-pandemic.aspx

Hāpai Te Hauora supports new research on tobacco control published by the University of Otago in the British Medical Journal this month. “This is significant for the tobacco control sector” says Zoe Hawke, General Manager of the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service for Hāpai Te Hauora.

“We have new strategies to advance Smokefree 2025 in Aotearoa and now we have an evidence base to support these strategies. Novel interventions can be difficult to advocate for without a track record to link outcomes to. The evidence presented in this study will go a long way to mitigating those difficulties. It also sends a clear message to decision-makers about the critical crossroads we’re at, and what we need to do if we’re serious about achieving Smokefree 2025.”

The study, titled “Impact of five tobacco endgame strategies on future smoking prevalence, population health and health system costs: two modelling studies to inform the tobacco endgame” was a trans-Tasman collaboration between the University of Otago and the University of Melbourne. It was specifically focussed on the New Zealand Smokefree 2025 goal and identified major health gains and cost savings could be achieved by utilising:

1. 10% annual tobacco tax increases

2. a tobacco- free generation: a ban on the provision of tobacco to those born from a set year onwards

3. a substantial outlet reduction strategy

4. a sinking lid on tobacco supply

5. a combination of 1,2 & 3

These strategies are new and the study modelled their potential impacts using New Zealand-specific data to achieve their findings. The authors propose that the data are used as modelling-level evidence for countries looking to achieve health gains, cost savings and reduce inequities related to tobacco consumption. They suggest that the findings will be validated and improved upon as the interventions are adopted.

Hawke says supply reduction is the key to achieving Smokefree 2025, but it won’t be easy. “If we think we’ve seen battles with the tobacco lobby, we’ve seen nothing yet. Reducing supply is the final hurdle to removing this harmful product from our communities and you can guarantee it will be fiercely fought by the industry.”

Philip Morris ‘tobacco sticks’ court prosecution postponed

The heat has come on tobacco company Philip Morris for importing and selling “tobacco sticks”.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/93268568/Philip-Morris-tobacco-sticks-court-prosecution-postponed

The company is facing two charges brought by the Ministry of Health over the sticks, called Heets.

The charges were to be called in the Wellington District Court on Friday but at the last minute they were adjourned by agreement until September 7.

That date was for a case review hearing, an indication that the company would plead not guilty although it appeared no pleas were entered.

The ministry said it considered Heets fell into a category of tobacco products for oral use, other than smoking, and so were banned under the Smoke-Free Environments Act.

Heets were described as tobacco sticks heated in an electronic device, rather than being burned like a normal cigarette.

Through a code-protected invitation-only website, the company was marketing its IQOS smokeless electronic devices, which heated the sticks to release the nicotine.

In March the company said it was confident the way it was doing business was legal.

General manager for Philip Morris New Zealand, Jason Erickson, said they complied with all sections of the Smoke-Free Environments Act.

“We are currently making our IQOS device and Heets available to registered adult smokers on a website. If requested, we will provide a demonstration on how to use the IQOS device, which as the Ministry of Health has acknowledged, is a consumer electronics product.”

The two charges the company faced had a maximum $10,000 penalty.

Tobacco poison needs to go from shelves

Former associate health minister Dame Tariana Turia is disappointed she was not able to get the government to remove tobacco from sale in New Zealand.

http://www.waateanews.com/waateanews/x_story_id/MTY0NTU=

It’s World Smokefree Day, and the Cancer Society and Maori public health organisation Hapai Te Hauora have launched the Dame Tariana Turia Award for tobacco control, which will go to someone working in tobacco control who has made an impact on indigenous smoking levels.

Dame Tariana says she is proud of what she was able to do as minister with the support of many others, but the New Zealand government still needs to say tobacco is a poisonous substance that should not be part of trade.

It showed it was able to act by stopping the sale of party pills and synthetic cannabis.

“They took the other off the shelves because of the incidents that were occurring through people taking them, yet for some reason tobacco has never been considered to be an unsafe substance,” she says.

Dame Tariana says dairy owners who want government protection against cigarette robberies should instead consider not selling them, following the lead of a Maori-owned dairy in Whanganui.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Defence Force is taking steps to be the world’s first smokefree military by 2020, including banning the sale of cigarettes on camps and bases and making NZDF housing smokefree.

Still No Tobacco Standardised Packaging Regulations

Imperial Tobacco New Zealand wants to know why the Government still hasn’t released Regulations to implement standardised packaging of tobacco.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1705/S00500/still-no-tobacco-standardised-packaging-regulations.htm

Parliament passed the Bill for tobacco products for standardised packaging in September 2016, but Regulations that set out exactly how and when the measure will be implemented still haven’t been released.

Head of Corporate and Legal Affairs for Imperial Tobacco New Zealand, Louise Evans McDonald, says Imperial and tobacco retailers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the delay.

“While we have made our objection to standardised packaging known, we will obviously need to comply with the new law. That is going to be extremely difficult to do if the Government won’t tell us exactly what the new law is.

“Retailers have joined us in calling for at least 12 months lead time until implementation – but that has clearly fallen on deaf ears. The legislation says that we must have standardised packaging in March next year, which is now less than 10 months away.

“We need to see the Regulations immediately so that we can source and prepare packaging materials ready to meet the deadline. If we don’t know what those materials must contain because we don’t have Regulations, then exactly what is the Government going to expect of us and, importantly, of retailers?”

ENDS

Timeline of key dates:

31 May 2016 – Exposure draft of regulations for consultation
30 June 2016 – Bill’s second reading
8 September 2016 – Bill’s third reading
14 September 2016 – Bill received Royal assent

Charges laid against Philip Morris

The Ministry of Health has laid charges against tobacco company Philip Morris New Zealand relating to a new type of non-burning tobacco product.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/92735158/charges-laid-against-philip-morris

The product, Iqos, was launched at the end of last year. It was promoted through an invitation-only website and used a battery-powered holder to heats tobacco sticks known as heets to give off vapour rather than smoke.

Heets are heated rather than burned like a traditional cigarette, to give smokers a nicotine hit.

The ministry said it considered heets were tobacco products designed for oral use other than for smoking and were prohibited under the Smoke-Free Environments Act.

The charges have been laid at the Wellington District Court and the case has been set down for first hearing on June 2.

The Ministry said in February that the device was legal but the sticks were not.

Philip Morris said the Ministry’s move demonstrated the need for comprehensive reform so that smokers could switch from cigarettes to smoke-free alternatives.

General manager of Philip Morris New Zealand Jason Erickson said the company believed it was helping to advance the Government’s goal of making the country smokefree when it introduced Iqos to New Zealand.

​Erickson said the company was confident that the sale of Iqos and heets fully complied with the Smokefree Environments Act (1990) and other relevant legislation in New Zealand.

“The section of the law referenced by the Ministry in its action against Philip Morris was originally put in place in the 1990s to address American-style chewing tobacco,” Erickson said.

“We stand behind Iqos and heets,” Mr Erickson said. “But it’s clear that old 20th century laws are not sufficient to address new 21st century technologies that New Zealand smokers are embracing as they move away from combustible cigarettes.”

The New Zealand Government announced in March that it would legalise the sale and supply of nicotine e-cigarettes and e-liquid, and establish a pathway to enable emerging tobacco and nicotine-delivery products to be sold lawfully as consumer products.

Iqos is available in in more than 20 countries around the world, including the UK, Japan, Italy and Switzerland. Globally more than two million smokers have switched to IQOS and the company had plans to expand to key cities in 30 countries by the end of 2017, Erickson said.

Anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) said Philip Morris had been working in opposition to the Government’s goal of the country becoming smokefree by 2025.

“Philip Morris have enough lawyers, have enough researchers and have enough intelligence to ensure they adhere to this country’s laws,” said spokesman Boyd Broughton.

“The fact they have knowingly broken the law is another example of their absolute contempt towards the laws of New Zealand. Is this product harmful? We don’t know. But this discussion is now about this product, it’s about the law. What we must remember is that Philip Morris remains responsible for selling and profiting off the sale of smoked tobacco, which is responsible for the preventable and premature deaths of over 5000 New Zealanders per year.”

BNZ to bring in nuclear free, tobacco free investment policy

Bank of New Zealand has developed a responsible investment policy which excludes companies involved in the production of cluster munitions, anti-personnel mines, nuclear weapons and tobacco or tobacco products from its international equity holdings, it said.

http://business.scoop.co.nz/2017/03/23/bnz-to-bring-in-nuclear-free-tobacco-free-investment-policy/

“In the last 3.5 years our funds under management have grown from $1.5 billion to almost $4 billion today, so we’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of our investment business,” BNZ head of wealth and private bank Donna Nicolof said in a statement. In the past BNZ invested in commingled funds alongside other institutional investors.

“One of our key investment beliefs is that risk and return are equally important and we have made the decision to exclude companies involved in the manufacture of tobacco on the basis that there is no safe level of use and engagement with these companies is futile. The regulatory and litigation risks faced by this industry are significant,” Nicolof said.

The investment policy at BNZ, a subsidiary of National Australia Bank, spans all investments it makes on behalf of customers and includes the investments of the BNZ KiwiSaver Scheme.

The move follows investor uproar last year after media investigations found New Zealanders had unknowingly invested $152 million in arms manufacturers and big tobacco companies through their KiwiSaver funds.

Earlier today the opposition Green Party said the government needs to set a clear deadline for when all KiwiSaver providers should have divested from companies involved in the manufacture of cluster bombs, landmines, and nuclear weapons. According to a report by Radio New Zealand four default providers – Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, Kiwibank, Westpac Banking Corp and Mercer – still had passive investments in such companies through global index funds.

“It’s time for the government to get tough on investment companies that are dragging their feet on ethical investment,” said Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

Letter from New Zealand Associate Minister of Health on e-cigarette Regulations

Download (PDF, 565KB)

Tobacco price rises cut smoking but some pay more than $40 a packet

The rapid rise of tobacco prices is seeing smokers change habits, say Nelson retailers.

However, there are diehard smokers, who say they cannot give up, paying more than NZ$40 for a packet of their preferred cigarettes.

At 10 per cent increase on cigarettes and tobacco products took effect this month, the first of four annual 10 per cent increases designed to help make New Zealand smokefree by 2025.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/88756238/tobacco-price-rises-cut-smoking-but-some-pay-more-than-40-a-packet

ROBERT CHARLES/FAIRFAX MEDIA

Smoking just a little more harder to take in with tax hikes on January 1 raising the price of tobacco products by 10 per cent.

The cost of a packet of 20 cigarettes will rise to about $30 in the next four years.

Independent retailer Mark Nicholson of Richmond Discount said the excise tax increases had “not negatively” affected his business.

But he had seen a shift in where people bought their tobacco, and a change from premium to value brands.

“They’ll come to us because it’s a bit cheaper and a bit faster, as opposed to regulatory [procedures] at places like supermarkets,” he said.

While he accepted there was a goal to reduce smoking rates in New Zealand, especially among young people, Nicholson said there were unintended consequences from the price increases.

Some of his regular clients were getting “hammered” financially due to their life-long habit.

“The bulk of our customers are aged, on a pension or fixed income, have smoked their whole life and when they started smoking no one was saying, ‘hey its bad for you’,” he said.

A Nelson smoker of 48 years, who did not want to be named, said he now had to pay NZ$46 for his preferred packet of 40 cigarettes.

“It’s not going to restrict me because I’m craving for the damn thing – I’m addicted and there’s nothing they can come up with any certainty that will knock the cigarettes off,” he said.

He said he started smoking when it was a common part of Kiwi culture, when the health effects were not fully known and there were no warning labels on packets.

Nicholson said another unintended consequence of price rises was to make tobacco products very attractive to organised crime.

As a result, Nicholson said businesses like his spent thousands annually on insurance and security to protect against those looking to cash in.

“The costs just get exponentially higher for us, the risks get exponentially higher and we have to do things to combat that, because you’re talking about a product that’s highly targetable and highly fencible.”

Manager of Fresh Choice Nelson City Mark A’Court said sales for cigarettes and tobacco were down this year.

“This is an ongoing trend for our store over the past few years, where we are 7 per cent down, but not in all supermarkets where tobacco sales actually [show] growth in sales dollars, not volume.”

A’Court said Fresh Choice’s prices were set by its head office and they did not get into discount lines as some stores had done.

Packets of 20 were being sold for between NZ$23- $27, while 30 gram pouches of tobacco were selling between $48-$53.

New Zealand is already one of the most expensive places to buy cigarettes in the world, behind Australia which also has strong pricing measures to deter smokers.

Online database Numbeo shows that a packet of 20 Marlboro cigarettes costs, on average, NZ$22.

In comparison, the same quantity costs NZ$26.04 in Australia, $NZ15.57 in Britain, $NZ8.99 in the USA and $NZ0.93 in Nigeria.

Smokers have declined significantly in New Zealand in the last 20 years with 17 per cent of adults currently smoking, of which 15 per cent smoke daily.

This has dropped from 25 per cent in 1996/97.

The New Zealand youth smoking rate dropped from 14 per cent to 6 per cent in the past 5 years.

The three key objectives of tobacco control activities in New Zealand are to reduce smoking initiation, increase quitting and reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.

The national target is that 90 percent of Primary Health Organisation-enrolled patients who smoke have been offered help to quit smoking by a health practitioner in the last 15 months.

For the quarter between July and September 2016, Nelson Bays Primary Health sat third on the national table, with 92 per cent.

The cost of smoking: (Source: Quitline)

– Someone smoking a pack a day spends about $160 a week on cigarettes, which is nearly $8,500 each year.
– There are approximately 650,000 smokers in New Zealand.
– 4,700-5,000 New Zealanders die from smoking-related illness each year.
– Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand.

Legality of tobacco product in question

Two of the world’s largest tobacco companies are at odds over whether a new tobacco product being launched in New Zealand is illegal.

This comes after the identity of a mysterious tobacco product, which prompted concern on the part of a University of Otago academic, was revealed as a product called Iqos.

The Philip Morris product heats tobacco, rather than burning it. The Ministry of Health says it has contacted Philip Morris “in relation to activities relating to the Iqos product”.

A member of the public, who declined to be named, said they were at a launch party for the product in Auckland last month. There was free alcohol at the event, which he said was run by marketing agency Brand Spanking and another company. People were educated about how to use the product and given free samples.

After a story on the then-mystery product was published in the Otago Daily Times yesterday, British American Tobacco (BAT) head of legal and external affairs Saul Derber made contact to say it was not behind the product.

Derber confirmed the product was Iqos and said it was BAT’s belief it was illegal in New Zealand.

He pointed to the Ministry of Health website, which stated “heat not burn” products were considered tobacco products for oral use, and their sale was prohibited under the
Smoke-free Environments Act 1990.

BAT had a similar product on sale in Japan but did not have plans to launch it in New Zealand because it was not legal under New Zealand law, Derber said.

He questioned the way the product was launched and a job advertisement that stated it would be marketed throughout New Zealand. He would not be drawn over whether such activity breached rules banning tobacco advertising.

“All I can tell you is that we wouldn’t do that.”

He said the mystery product was not the “Voke Inhaler” mentioned as a possibility in yesterday’s ODT. It was not yet approved for sale in New Zealand and had recently been sold to a company not connected to BAT.

Philip Morris responded late yesterday, saying the section of the law referenced on the ministry’s website was put in place in the 1990s, to address American-style chewing tobacco.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with heated tobacco or e-cigarettes,” a spokesman said.

“Our product fully complies with all relevant legislation in New Zealand.”

The company was launching the product in New Zealand because of widespread interest in alternatives to conventional combustible tobacco products, the spokesman said.

Iqos could help the Government’s push to a smokefree 2025 goal, he said.

It was available in more than a dozen markets and in Japan alone, more than one million smokers had quit cigarettes and used Iqos. The man who was at the Auckland launch of Iqos, at The Wharf, said people were given the opportunity to try the product, which involved putting half-sized tobacco cigarettes in a device that heated but did not burn tobacco.

The man at the launch party likened the product to a cross between ecigarettes, which involve heating liquid often containing nicotine, and normal cigarettes and said there were mixed responses from those who tried it.

Ministry of Health tobacco control programme manager Jane Chambers said in an emailed statement the ministry was aware of the product launch.

“The ministry is concerned with any activity that actively promotes the sale or notifies the availability of any tobacco product.

“The ministry has contacted Philip Morris in relation to activities relating to the Iqos product.”

She said if the product contained tobacco, it was potentially illegal to market it at events and “educate” people about it.

The revelations come after a job advertisement sought 20 people to work for “experiential marketing” agency Brand Spanking and be trained regarding a new tobacco industry product.

Brand Spanking did not reply to follow-up questions yesterday. Director and creative strategist Mark Pickering said in an email on Wednesday night the agency “does not discuss client work with the media”.

– Otago Daily Times

Tobacco tax hike hits smokers hard

http://times-age.co.nz/tobacco-tax-hike-hits-smokers-hard/

Making tobacco products more expensive to buy is a proven way to prod smokers into giving up the habit, Wairarapa list MP Marama Fox says.

The anti-smoking advocate said Quitline, the organisation that helps New Zealanders give up smoking tobacco products, received more calls when prices jumped up.

At the start of the year the cost of cigarettes rose 10 per cent, a move it will make annually until 2020.

It is a part of a bid to help New Zealand reach its 2025 target – to have fewer than 5 per cent of the population smoking.

“The ongoing impact on families with low income is the incentive to quit…” Ms Fox said.

“The cost to our families, through sicknesses and illness, exceeds the cost of cigarettes.

“If we can ensure our whanau have the right incentive and support to quit, then we can save our families the cost of the burden of illness and disease and the loss of our people through death.”

Ms Fox said she wants to see more voluntary smoke free communities in New Zealand.

She credited stores that refused to sell cigarettes as making “a brave move”.

“A number of vendors around the country have chosen not to go there, they see the benefits in the lives of their families, and they don’t want to be providing cigarettes for our whanau.”

Ms Fox believes we are on track to meet the 2025 goal, which she said has already been achieved in certain areas.

“We are already meeting that target in a number of communities, sadly, not Maori communities overall.

“The numbers of Maori smoking are coming down, it is slower than the rest of the population but it is continuing to decrease.”

Ms Fox said vaping and e-cigarettes should be used as reduced harm measures, encouraging people to ditch smoking cigarettes.

“We want to be careful when the introduction of this comes through… not to be enticing young people into something that looks cool,” she said.

Ms Fox said they should be a “cessation product first and foremost”.