The national target of being smokefree by 2025 will not be met without a massive shakeup of funding for anti-tobacco groups, the Ministry of Health now concedes.
About 12,500 people successfully quit smoking each year, but this needs to more than triple to reach the 2025 target. At the 2013 census, 13.7 per cent of the adult population said they smoked.
The Government committed three years ago to stamping out smoking by 2025, but a slew of reports have warned that the target is looking shaky.
Ministry documents, prepared for a meeting with quit smoking providers and advocacy groups last month, said a “business as usual approach” to encouraging people to quit would no longer work. A greater focus was needed on risky groups, such as pregnant women and the mentally ill, and groups that still had stubbornly high smoking rates, such as Maori and Pacific people.
“More needs to be done … to achieve that 2025 goal,” the documents say.
Dozens of quit smoking and anti-tobacco advocacy groups could be under threat as the ministry puts millions of dollars worth of services up for tender in the open market as part of the ministry’s “tobacco realignment”.
Groups such as Quitline which actually provide services to help people quit should be funded.
But groups which are primarily lobby groups should not be funded. It is constitutionally repugnant to have Government departments and agencies fund lobby groups to then lobby Ministers and Parliament.
Lobby groups should be funded by members and supporters – not by taxpayers.
Ash director Stephanie Erick said it was true the shakeup could mean the end of her organisation, but it was more important that the smokefree goal was reached.
An excellent view. I agree.