Research group pushes for tobacco-free New Zealand by 2025, discusses with supporters additional measures that could be introduced in retail environment, including more options for nicotine replacement therapy

PALMERSTON NORTH, New Zealand , October 3, 2011 (press release) – Researchers from Massey University, part of a group that has met in Wellington, are supporting calls for a tobacco-free New Zealand by 2025.

The group, which operates under the collective banner ASPIRE 2025, hosted speakers on Thursday from Australia to learn how state governments over there have handled the removal of tobacco retail displays, and to consider the next steps in the fight against the tobacco epidemic in New Zealand.

The group includes the director of the Research Centre for Maori Health and Development, Professor Chris Cunningham. The centre, which is part of the University’s School of Public Health, is a founding member of ASPIRE 2025. Professor Cunningham is also a director of several organisations concerned with Maori health and is a trustee of smoking cessation agency the Quit Group.

Last year he was appointed an independent advisor to the Maori Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the tobacco industry in Aotearoa and the consequences of tobacco use for Maori.

The select committee’s recommendation of a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025 is the aspiration and basis for the research collaboration, Professor Cunningham says.

“The collaboration represents an important partnership between academics, policy makers, community researchers and service providers,” he says.

Professor of Marketing, Philip Gendall, is also involved in the ASPIRE collaboration. His expertise in branding contributed to a recently published paper on the implications for tobacco control of young adults’ impressions of different cigarette brands.

Guest speakers at the seminar, which was headlined by Action on Smoking and Health chief executive Anne Jones, spoke of how some Australian states have introduced a range of smoke-free laws. These include laws banning smoking in vehicles carrying children, the introduction of fire-safe cigarettes, smoke-free outdoor eating-places and banning tobacco advertising and displays in retail outlets. Retail tobacco displays are due to be removed in New Zealand under legislation passed this year that will come into effect by July 2012.

The seminar included presentations from New Zealand researchers abut other possible measures that could be introduced in the retail environment – for example the wider retail availability of nicotine replacement therapy; and included discussion of the evaluation of the forthcoming removal of point of display sales.

The Massey University researchers were joined at the seminar by researchers from the University of Otago, Whakauae Research for Maori Health and Development and Tala Pasifika. Associated groups include the Health Sponsorship Council.

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