INDEPENDENT NEWS

Smokefree Generation To Be Trashed For Tax Cuts

Published: Wed 28 Feb 2024 05:12 PM
Today marks a tragic milestone for New Zealanders as the Coalition Government side with big tobacco to repeal the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Act 2022, Labour Leader Chris Hipkins and Labour Health spokesperson Ayesha Verrall said.
“The action the Coalition Government is taking today is not only a stain on Parliament’s record, it is morally reprehensible and a blemish on the records of New Zealand’s health system,” Chris Hipkins said.
“The Government folding to big tobacco while pretending to care about the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders is the stuff of dystopian nightmares. It lacks a moral compass, content to continue to promote and support an industry that literally kills its consumers,” Chris Hipkins said.
“Smoking is toxic. It is our leading cause of premature death. Desperately trying to make up figures for promised tax cuts for the wealthiest New Zealanders will be at the expense of thousands of lives, and $5.25 billion dollars to the system in healthcare costs,” Ayesha Verrall said.
“The Coalition Government contradicts itself when members say they care about reducing smoking while they are making it easier for young people to buy tobacco.
“Not only has the Coalition Government ignored public opinion, the Associate Minister Casey Costello has been told by countless health experts, medical colleges, and advised by the Ministry of Health not to repeal the legislation in order to save lives.
“Casey Costello is making murky work of being a Minister, and has not been able to give straight answers to straight questions in Parliament about tax breaks for tobacco companies, or the advice she receives. I repeat my call for Christopher Luxon to strip her of the Associate Health portfolio.
“The Coalition Government has put big tobacco interest over the health of New Zealanders in a dirty deal done behind closed doors.
“Labour supports Health Coalition Aotearoa’s work towards a citizens initiated referendum so the public can have its voice heard. I encourage New Zealanders to join us in bringing the law back and protecting the health of our future generations,” Ayesha Verrall said.

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