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Banning duty-free tobacco unlikely, says PM

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, June 28 NZPA - Banning the sale of duty-free tobacco in New Zealand is not on the radar, despite urgings from anti-smoking lobby groups, says Prime Minister John Key.

As tobacco excise tax increases, along with the number of public spaces in New Zealand becoming no-smoking zones, there has also been pressure from anti-smoking groups to ramp up restrictions on sales -- including banning the sale of duty-free tobacco here.

The Smokefree Coalition has that measure in its sights, wanting such a ban to be put in place in 2012 as part of its Tobacco Free New Zealand 2020 strategy, while Maori Party co-leader and Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia has also in the past called for an end to duty-free tobacco sales here.

TVNZ reported tonight that ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) had a new report which said cheap tobacco, such as that sold duty free, was fuelling a black market trade here, and that it was easy to enlist travel companions to buy tobacco on someone else's behalf and skirt restriction controls applied to people entering New Zealand. A Ministry of Health spokesman said the ministry had been asked by the Government to have a look at the issue.

While discussing the latest anti-smoking initiative -- banning tobacco in prisons -- Mr Key said today he would be surprised if New Zealand moved to ban the sale of duty-free tobacco here as consumers were able to buy such products at various other places including on planes and at departure points.

"So why would New Zealand sign up to that if airlines were going to continue to sell cigarettes on board and if they were going to be able to be sold in other parts of the world where people are starting their journey. So I haven't had any advice to that regard and I don't think it will be occurring."

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