Total smoking ban too difficult - Key

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 08:26 23/07/2012
Fairfax NZ

John Key talks about the up and coming asset sales, ban on smoking and the Fiji Government

JOHN KEY
GRAHAME COX
JOHN KEY: Banning smoking would be "tremendously difficult".
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ANDY JACKSON/Taranaki Daily News
TARIANA TURIA: The Government has set a goal for New Zealand to be "essentially smokefree" by 2025.
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Prime Minister John Key says a National Government is unlikely to ban smoking, despite it being a key policy of its support partner the Maori Party.

The Maori Party wants to make New Zealand smokefree by 2025.

The policy has been pushed by co-leader Tariana Turia who is also the Associate Health Minister.

Under new law coming into effect today, tobacco products can no longer be displayed in public view in retail outlets, including dairies, supermarkets and petrol stations.

Turia is also today releasing a consultation document for the Government's next move to curb smoking - plain packaging.

Key this morning said the Government was unlikely to ever ban smoking because it would be ''tremendously difficult''.

''Effectively you'd be saying cigarettes are a banned substance in New Zealand,'' told TVNZ's Breakfast programme.

''Then you'd have to deal with different international environments such as tourists that come from Singapore.''

The Government wanted to discourage smoking by highlighting its health implications and ensuring support was available.

Key said he had yesterday discussed the issue of smoking with his teenage son Max, who was not smoking but had been at a party where young people were.

''I said to him the same thing I'd say to anyone, smoking kills you with greater predictability than almost anything else.

''If you smoke for 20 years or more you are likely to die 20 years younger than you otherwise would, so that's why we want people to give up.''

Some people would always choose to smoke and it may claim their lives, he said.

''As Prime Minister I go around quite a few hospices and the great tragedy is the number of people in their fifties and sixties who have great families, they'd love to be there and if they'd known all this when they started smoking at 15, franky they probably wouldn't have done it.''

Turia today said smoking was the single largest cause of preventable death and disease in New Zealand, with up to 5000 people dying each year from smoking or exposure to smoke.

''The Government is serious about reducing the enormous harm, suffering, and loss of life that smoking causes and has set a goal for New Zealand to be essentially smokefree by 2025."

The Government wanted to hear from the public about its plans to introduce plain packaging to stop tobacco companies from using the design and appearance of their packaging to promote their products, she said.

Australia is introducing plain packaging in December but it faced legal action from tobacco companies for breaching its trade commitments.

However, Turia said she was confident the New Zealand Government could bring in a plain packaging regime that would meet its international trade and investment obligations.

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