Home Grown tobacco claims made by Industry are all about protecting profits.

It is common practice for the Tobacco Industry to play on fears about illicit trade as they have done recently here in New Zealand with home grown tobacco.

Lance O’Sullivan, a Northland GP and Advisor for the National Tobacco Advocacy service based at Hāpai states that “When the tobacco industry makes exaggerated claims about illicit tobacco trade they are attempting to scare decision makers and communities. But we need to ask ourselves why are the industry so concerned about this particular issue, yet they are not making a big deal about the more substantial problem of legal tobacco use – which kills 5,000 New Zealander’s a year?’

In New Zealand illicit trade is a relatively minor problem, with recent estimates by the Ministry of Health to be at approximately 2-4 percent of the tobacco market.

Zoe Hawke, General Manager of the Advocacy Service states that “During the plain packaging legal challenge in Australia the tobacco industry made illicit tobacco trade claims as part of their campaign against the legislation. However peer reviewed research showed no change in availability of illicit tobacco following implementation of plain packaging. We need to be skeptical of statements made by industry, especially when we are about to implement public health initiatives that could impact on their profits, yet save 100’s of lives”.

CEO of Hāpai, Lance Norman says “it is highly ironic that tobacco companies are focussed on illicit trade, however are not concentrated on supporting our whānau through other harm minimisation strategies”

Case studies around the world during the last decade show that if the highly unlikely scenario of hard to grow home grown tobacco became an illicit trade issue, there are already effective strategies in place that would easily, and cheaply lead to positive results.

For Further Information:

Zoe Hawke - General Manager Tobacco Control Advocacy

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