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Tobacco case ‘should encourage plain packaging here’

The MÄ ori Party is delighted that tobacco giant Philip Morris has lost one of its legal bids in Singapore to overturn Australian’s plain packaging laws. Philip Morris has initiated at least three international challenges against Australia which was the first country in the world to introduce plain packaging.

MÄ ori Party Co-leader Marama Fox says the legal action brought by international tobacco companies has dissuaded the New Zealand Government from passing similar legislation here.

“Dame Tariana Turia introduced a plain packaging Bill into Parliament more than two years ago and we are still sitting on our hands.

“I’m encouraged to hear the Trade Minister Todd McClay say he believes New Zealand is well positioned to defend a legal challenge if we were to pass plain packaging legislation here.”

Mrs Fox says the MÄ ori Party is hopeful that the Bill will be passed by Parliament next year.

MÄ ori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says the Australian example has shown how stripping the branding off cigarettes packets has reduced smoking rates.

“The number of new smokers has dropped dramatically and if we want to prevent rangatahi from picking up smoking this appears to be an effective strategy,” he says.

According to the Ministry of Health, around 5000 individuals die each year from smoking or second-hand exposure.

MÄ ori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says New Zealand has an international reputation for its smokefree reforms.

“The Government, with the support of the MÄ ori Party, has committed to a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025.

“If we’re going to reach this target we need to show some courage. We should be doing everything we can to eliminate the harmful effects of smoking on our whÄ nau.”

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