It’s one of the world’s toughest anti-smoking laws. The Māori see a major flaw

New Zealand’s new anti-smoking law, one of the world’s toughest, faces criticism from the Māori community who see major flaws in its approach.

Contextual Background: Teresa Butler, a member of New Zealand’s indigenous Māori community, started smoking at just 8 years old.
* Historically, smoking was prevalent among the Māori due to a lack of education about its harm and the low cost of cigarettes.
* Despite having no history of using tobacco prior to European colonization, over half of the Māori population were smokers by the 1980s.

New Zealand’s Anti-Smoking Goal: New Zealand aimed to reduce its cigarette smoking rate to 5% by 2025, a goal set in 2011.
* Despite being on track to achieve this goal for its European and Asian populations, the Māori community, with a 20% smoking rate in 2021, is projected to only reach this goal by 2061.
* A new law was therefore passed to limit the amount of nicotine in cigarettes, reduce the number of cigarette retailers, and ban anyone born after 2008 from ever buying cigarettes.

Backlash from the Māori Community: Members of the Māori community express concerns about the law’s unintended consequences.
* Fears include the possibility of a surge in the black market which could lead to more dangerous cigarettes and increasing police crackdowns.
* Shane Reti, a Māori physician and Parliament member, highlighted potential economic impacts on local stores, known as dairies, that rely significantly on cigarette sales.

Lack of Appropriate Cessation Services: Māori individuals stress the need for more culturally competent approaches to smoking cessation.
* Andrew Waa, a public health associate professor, emphasizes the necessity for more Māori-focused campaigns and the need for a significant increase in service provision.
* The government has pledged $14 million to recruit more Māori counselors and boost smoking cessation services.

Despite the concerns raised by the Māori community, the individuals interviewed agreed on the need for a “by-Māori for-Māori approach” to successfully reduce smoking rates below the targeted 5%.

View original article on NPR

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