Dr Amber L. Pearson, Frederieke S. van der Deen, Associate Professor Nick Wilson
Figure 1. Map of current tobacco retailers in New Zealand (n=6000)
How can we achieve the 2025 goal of a smokefree nation? The best approach to this tobacco endgame, as it is often called, is unclear. Options include ongoing tobacco tax rises, a sinking lid on tobacco imports, denicotinisation of tobacco products, etc. In this blog we consider the option of reducing the number of tobacco retail outlets – leaning on a study we have just published. There are no observational studies, let alone randomised trials, of nation-wide retail outlet reductions. One way to address this ‘evidence gap’ is through modelling studies that anticipate how smoking behaviour may change due to increasing cost of tobacco through travel time and costs – an economic methodology. There is a lot of uncertainty around our results, but they do suggest that an outlet reduction strategy would probably help nudge the country towards the NZ Government’s smokefree goal. But our modelling also suggests tobacco outlet reduction is far from a panacea – under the assumptions we used. Therefore, outlet reduction would probably have to be but one component of an overall programme of activity to achieve the 2025 goal.
Dr Ninya Maubach (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Consumers have a right to have informative yet easy-to-use nutrition labelling, and effective labelling is one tool to help control the epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Everyone agrees that on its own, the current Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) used in NZ does not achieve the goal of facilitating healthier food choices. But suggestions around more consumer-friendly front-of-pack labels have been fiercely contested by industry and health stakeholders – until now, it seems. Is the new Health Star Rating label truly a win-win consensus, or might too much have been given away to reach a compromise?
Associate Professor Nick Wilson, Megan Smith (UNSW Australia), Professor Tony Blakely
This blog looks at a study we just published on a cost-utility analysis around extending HPV vaccination to boys in NZ. In a nutshell, it is not currently cost-effective for boys. Here we put these results into a wider context of vaccination – which is often, but not always, a good use of limited health sector resources.
Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu
Editor note: This blog was prepared by Prof Cliona Ni Mhurchu whilst she was visiting her home-country, Ireland. Cliona sent an email to myself and other Kiwis during that time outlining the strong actions that the Irish Government is planning on obesity and food – a far cry from the state of play in New Zealand. Which has led to this blog, in which Cliona makes the head-to-head comparison on food and obesity policy (in)activity between Ireland and New Zealand. Tony Blakely.
In the last couple of years the Irish rugby team gave the All Blacks cause to sit up and take notice not just once but twice. The first occasion was during the 2nd test match in 2012 where the ABs narrowly won with a drop kick minutes before the end, and the second was late last year in Dublin when the ABs won by a margin of just 2 points. Optimistic Irish rugby fans are increasingly convinced that the day will come when Ireland will beat New Zealand at its own game.
Professor Richard Edwards
Every now and then when discussing New Zealand’s Smokefree 2025 goal, plain packaging or some other policy measure, the question will come up – ‘well why don’t you just ban it?’ Indeed, Hone Harawira drafted a Private Members Bill proposing exactly that back in 2006.
Why not just ban the sale of tobacco?
This blog considers some arguments for and against a ban on the production (other than tobacco grown for personal use), importation and sale of tobacco products, whilst not criminalising the use of tobacco. The purpose of such a measure would be to ensure, hasten and sustain the achievement of the goal of close to zero smoking prevalence by 2025. The blog comes down on the side of intensifying other tobacco control approaches initially but also encouraging a public debate about setting a ‘national quit date’ in a few years time when the tobacco industry would be stopped from selling its lethal and addictive tobacco products.