Plain packaging by 2017

By Ripeka Timutimu
  • Wellington

Plain cigarette packets could hit the NZ shelves as soon as next year as the government navigates towards a smoke free country by 2025. Associate Minister of Health Sam Lotu-Iiga made the announcement today but sceptics say it won't have any effect on smoking numbers.

This is what the future could look like. The government says plain packaging will kick smoking in the butt.

Lotu-Iiga says, “It will reduce the appeal and acceptability of cigarettes and tobacco it will make warnings more effective.”

Health researcher Marewa Glover says there isn't solid evidence that imagery on packaging lowers smoking rates. However, Hāpai te Hauora are hoping this imagery will.

“We hope youth will see the picture and be warned off smoking, because of its danger to health and because it's not a Māori tradition,” says Sativa Herangi.

Tunuiarangi McLean from Hāpai te Hauora says, “They've designed this mural as a means of getting the smoke-free message out to the community of Henderson. I think that's admirable. Perhaps they have the right idea. Let's target our youth and let them lead us to being smoke-free.”

The public will now be able to make submissions on plain packaging, Lotu-Iiga says Māori will be a big focus.

“35% of Māori are smokers and we will be consulting widely.”

Submissions close July 29, with findings tabled to Cabinet later in the year.