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December 16th, 2016:

Hāpai Te Hauora calls for stronger tobacco control in NZ

Smokefree 2025 is the Governments goal to make New Zealand essentially smokefree by 2025. By 2018 the daily smoking will need to fall to 10% and Māori and Pacific adult daily smoking rates to have fallen to 19% and 11% respectively. This means, by 2018 we are aiming for an estimated 58,000 smokers to have quit daily smoking, 27,000 will be Māori and 8,000 Pacific.

The NZ Health Survey, annual update of key results report was released today by the Ministry of Health and Hāpai Te Hauora find there is both urgent and wide-ranging tobacco control work to be done.

Hāpai Te Hauora CEO Lance Norman says “the smoking rate is decreasing too slowly.”

Norman raised in an earlier media release the disparities for Māori woman and Māori men and Pacific population groups. Now more than ever we need improved collaboration with Māori providers and communities. Both international and national experience shows that stop smoking services alone will not get all population groups to 2025.

The report repeats the fact that smoking continues as a leading risk factor for poor health that is completely preventable. Sadly, smoking continues as the main cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a major cause of heart disease, heart attacks, stroke and many other cancers causing early death and disease.

Hāpai encourages consideration of the social and economic complexities of health care for Māori and Pacific when planning for action, and supports regular and ongoing mass media campaigns, e-cigarette availability, coupled with a reduction in tobacco outlet accessibility.

Lance Norman applauds the authors of the report for providing more information on smoking amongst Māori that has long been discussed in communities and now evidenced and reported around systemic racism and interpersonal racism embedded in the historical context of colonization.

The current smoking rate (adults who smoke at least monthly) has fallen from 20% in 2006/07 to 16% in 2015/16, however that is only a reduction of 1% from last year’s prevalence at 17%.

The report shows that current smoking for Māori woman is 40% compared to 15% for European/Other woman. After adjusting for age, Māori woman were 3.5 times as likely to be current smokers compared to non-Māori.

The most substantial reduction in current smoking rates since 2006/2007 was for youth (those aged 15–17 years), for whom the rate has more than halved from 16% in 2006/07 to 6% in 2015/2016 however this is no change from last year when current smoking for this group was also at 6%.

Māori have the highest current smoking rate of 38.6%, Pacific at 25.5% compared to European at 14.5%. Although the Māori current smoking rate has not improved since last year, the average number of cigarettes smoked per day by Māori daily smokers has declined over the period 2006/07 to 2014/15.

Smoking by Māori men is reported at 37.3% an increase from the previous year’s 34.0%. Although we are not yet clear on how significant the upward movement for Māori men is, the change indicates a need for closer monitoring and further investigation. Māori women smoking at 39.7% shows no significant change.

Smoking is strongly linked to socioeconomic deprivation and Hapai Te Hauora like many other health providers understand the need to address the social determinants of health such as education, socio economic status, housing, internet access, access to a vehicle. Adults living in the most deprived areas are 3.1 times as likely to smoke as those living in the least deprived areas, after adjusting for age, sex and ethnic differences.

Hāpai Te Hauora the voice of Tobacco Control Advocacy encourages people to look closely at the recent New Zealand Health survey results to gain a full picture of the health of New Zealanders and explanations for persistent and unacceptable high rates of smoking amongst Māori.

At the very least it is imperative that New Zealanders know and understand that we have a Smokefree 2025 goal.

French pension reserve fund turns its back on tobacco, coal

Fonds de reserve pour les retraites (FRR), France’s €37.2bn pension reserve fund, will no longer invest in the tobacco industry or certain coal companies.

Further, next year, it will launch €5bn of ESG-based passive equity mandates as part of the implementation of the new strategies.

The exclusion strategy will be applied to the fund’s existing bond mandates, so that, by the end of 2017, it will have been applied to almost 95% of the “overall scope” of FRR’s assets, according to the fund.

It yesterday announced that it decided to exclude, from its equity and bond portfolio, investments in tobacco-producing companies and companies for which more than 20% of turnover is derived from thermal coal extraction or coal-fired power generation.

The strategy was proposed by the executive board and approved by the supervisory board on 1 December.

In a statement, FRR said efforts by the World Health Organisation, governments and civil society to deal with the “scourge” of tobacco consumption could eventually weigh on the performance of tobacco companies.

It also believes engaging with companies will not lead to progress “because the whole purpose of engagement would be to demand that they should stop their activities altogether”.

“For this reason, FRR has decided to exclude the tobacco industry from its portfolio,” it said.

On its decision on coal companies, the reserve fund said it had already reduced its exposure to high-carbon sectors, especially those exposed to coal, which is accountable for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other fossil energy source.

FRR said that, after the international agreement on climate change reached at the UN Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris last December, “governments, and also investors, are increasingly calling coal into question as being incompatible with the objective of limiting global warming to 2°”.

FRR will still invest in companies that generate more than 20% of their turnover – or their electricity, steam or heat production – from coal if they employ carbon capture and storage processes or “have formally announced their commitment and have begun to take action in this direction”.

The fund said the two exclusion strategies would be rolled out in 2017.

The coal exclusion decision contributes to portfolio decarbonisation efforts that have been underway at FRR over at least the past two years.

Individual and institutional investors representing more than $5trn (€4.7trn) of assets under management have committed to divesting from fossil fuels, according to a recent report.

FRR’s announcement comes a day after the local authority pension fund for the borough of Southwark in London pledged to sell its investments in fossil fuels.