The calls are growing within Maori communities for stricter controls on tobacco, with some going as far as Maori Party MP Hone Harawira to advocate the banning full stop of cigarette sales. However, that hasn’t stopped British American Tobacco New Zealand (BAT) from telling a Maori Affairs select committee inquiry that even though banning tobacco ads won’t reduce smoking it will lose big tobacco their market share (ooo booohooo!).
According the the Parliamentary Services website, the purpose of the inquiry is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the actions of the tobacco industry to promote tobacco use amongst Maori, and the impact of tobacco use on the health of the Maori population, and the wider economic, social, cultural and developmental impacts that arise from such health effects and tobacco use more generally.
Graeme Amey, BAT managing director argued that research indicated that a lack of advertising of tobacco products would have little impact on smoking but argued that if tobacco companies did lose the option of visual advertising that they would lose market share, saying that “brand switching would become an issue”.
Instead Amey’s oral submission stressed the importance of decreasing youth smoking by increasing education and added the options of licensing cigarette sellers and increasing enforcement of laws restricting sales to under 18s.
MP Hone Harawira’s suggestion that Maori were targeted by tobacco companies fell on deaf ears with Mr Amey saying that BAT took no responsibility whatsoever for the dramatically high rates of death among Maori, saying that cigarettes were legal and therefore a personal choice as those who smoked knew the risks.
Mr Amey also took the typbcal big tobacco argument that banning smoking would lead to a black market in nicotine.