Smoking-related disease devastates whanau.
Smoking had prematurely taken the lives of tens of thousands of Maori," said health organisation Te Hotu Manawa Maori (THMM) executive director, Moana Tane. Tane was addressing the Maori Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the tobacco industry and the consequences of tobacco use for Maori last month.
"Each year, more than 600 Maori people die from smoking-related illnesses. We have lost so much knowledge, wisdom and experience and such loss can never be recovered. Our organisation sees first-hand the devastation brought about by smoking-related diseases, and the burden of premature deaths for whanau.
"Nearly 50 percent of Maori women smoke and have the highest rates of lung cancer in the world. As the bearers of future generations, women are the backbone of whanau. But if they smoke, they represent the greatest risk to our future, by exposing our tamariki to smoke."
THMM support the Smokefree Coalition's vision for a tobacco-free Aotearoa by 2020. "We recommend a ban on the retail display of tobacco, and a price hike to motivate more of our whanau to quit. As well, we believe revenue from tax increases should be dedicated to Maori cessation services and promoting an Auahi Kore tobacco-free lifestyle," said Tane.
Two Pacific groups, Smokefree Pasifika Action Network and TALA PASIFIKA (the National Pacific Tobacco Control Service) also spoke in support of the Maori stance.