The anti-smoking lobby group ASH New Zealand Inc. (“ASH”), a registered charity with the Charities Commission, has vowed to bring the Tobacco Industry “out of the shadows” by “holding them to account”. ASH [“Action on Smoking and Health”] – will continue its “attack” on the industry’s appalling record of having been responsible for causing the deaths of about 5,000New Zealanders per year, and expose how some of the industry’s sales reps are “targetting” many young vulnerable Maori and Polynesian girls. It also intends to continue its vigorous campaign against NZ retailers who it accuses of deliberately “enticing” children and young persons into taking up smoking through their immoral retail advertising of the “dangerous, deadly and addictive” product – tobacco.
ASH lobby group spokesperson Mr Ben Youdan has revealed in an interview on TVNZ that in response to anti-smoking lobby groups’ “targetting” of the Tobacco Industry, the industry has issued “threats” of “law suits” with more anticipated – to be expected he implied – from an industry that “won’t take it [their attacks] lying down”. Attacks on the industry by lobby groups – even if they are registered charities and receive extensive government funding, as does charity-lobby group ASH ($592,892 in 2010/11: see below), are not taken kindly by Tobacco industry barons whose livelihoods are seen to be under threat from the zealous lobbyists.
What is really needed to curb the smoking rate among New Zealanders are some “really big hit policies” ASH lobby group-charity spokesperson Ben Youdan told TVNZ in December 2011. He cited four activities his charity-lobby group was involved in as part of its extensive government-funded charity-lobby programme of political advocacy:
(1) Compelling government to significantly increase the price of cigarettes by imposing a minimum of a 20% excise tax on tobacco.
(2) Compelling government to introduce law changes banning all forms of tobacco retail displays.
(3) Compelling government to reduce the supply of tobacco to the market by law changes.
(4) Compelling government to treat tobacco in law as a “deadly, dangerous and addictive drug” e.g. by introducing stiffer penalties for its supply to minors etc.
Mr Ben Youdan of ASH eloquently argued that “public bans” on smoking were and should be “part of the mix of policies” needed to reduce smoking rates among New Zealanders. They were essential he said, given that the decline in the smoking rate in New Zealand had only fallen less than 0.2% per year over the last decade, much less than the rates of declines recorded in Australia and Europe.
We need “harder-hitting evidence-based policies” he maintained. Bans on smoking in public bars and work-place environments had served to effectively deal with the health risks caused by the inhalation of “second-hand” smoke by non-smokers. However, ASH wants such bans to be extended to play areas, local parks, beaches, all national parks etc with stiffer policing, and ultimately it seeks a total outlawing/prohibition of smoking in Aoteoroa- New Zealand by the year 2025 (defined as under 4% of the population being recorded as smokers).
ASH, an effective charitable-political lobby group, presented a well-researched and compelling submission to the Maori Affairs Select Committee’s Inquiry into the tobacco industry in Aotearoa and the consequences of tobacco use for Maoris. The Government issued its final response to the Committee’s Inquiry Report in a 21- page report – to the House of Representatives, making 42 recommendations.
ASH was registered as a charitable entity by the Charities Commission on 30 June 2008 (Reg. No. CC31354). In the financial year ended 30 June 2011 its total income of $711,101 included $592,892 in direct government funding, $38,400 from other grants sand sponsorship, $36,522 from donations, $17,713 from investment income and $4,386 from membership fees. Its total expenditute in 2010/11 was $735,612, and of that $475,936 was spent on salaries and wages. ASH ended the 2010/11 financial year with a deficit of $24,511. (see www.charities.govt.nz)
1. ASH Spokesman on smoking ban (Source: TVNZ News at 8pm 30 December 2011)
2. Can Smoking Be Banned in NZ (Source: TVNZ7 News at 8pm. 6 May 2012)
3. ASH website: www.ash.org.nz
4. Smoking ban may extend to parks, beaches. By Tom Hunt.
The Dominion Post. Thursday, May 17, 2012, p. A2.