A leading New Zealand health group, Hāpai Te Hauora, has vehemently urged the government to retain the nation’s canned Smokefree laws, using ‘Māori health’ as a key concern.
The organisation’s plea follows the newly-elected government’s proposal to revoke the laws, which were proposed by the previous Jacinda Ardern-led Labour government.
The new conservative government’s repeal of the controversial plan has sparked fierce debates and concerns about its potential impact on public health and personal freedoms.
Hāpai Te Hauora’s interim CEO, Jason Alexander, expressed grave reservations about the proposed repeal, asserting that it would have detrimental effects on lives, the economy, and an already strained healthcare system.
Alexander claimed widespread community support for the Smokefree legislation, however the plan has been widely criticised and proved unpopular at the polls in last year’s election.
“Many within our communities back these laws, viewing them as pioneering measures that should be upheld. If the government remains steadfast in its repeal plans, we stand ready to collaborate on viable alternatives,” Alexander remarked.
He called for the introduction of the legislation at ‘all costs,’ despite major concerns over unintended consequences of such restrictive laws.
The Smokefree 2025 initiative, was a cornerstone of Jacinda Ardern’s health strategy, aimed to phase out smoking by force, drastically restricting sales and introducing highly controversial age-limiting purchase bans.
However, the current administration cited concerns over a potential black market and economic considerations as reasons for the repeal.
Minor protests in Wellington and Auckland took place last month.