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."