Māori will die to fund tax cuts

By scrapping Aotearoa’s world-leading smokefree laws, this government is sacrificing Māori lives to fund tax cuts for the wealthy.

Not only is this plan revolting, but it doesn’t add up. Treasury has estimated that the reversal of smokefree laws to pay for tax cuts will cost our health system $5.25bn, and cut productivity growth by $5.88bn.

Smoking is the leading cause of premature deaths in Aotearoa, particularly for Māori who have the highest rates of smoking in the country. The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill would have seen Aotearoa smokefree within a generation, saving up to 5,000 lives each year.

“This Government is putting tobacco industry profits before Māori lives” said Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

“They are relying on addiction to fuel tax cuts for their rich mates. It’s vile.

“Māori die seven years earlier on average than Pākehā, and smoking is our leading cause of preventable death. By doing this while also promising to dismantle the Māori Health Authority, this government is digging our people an early grave” said Ngarewa-Packer.

“What message does this send to our rangatahi?

“That smoking is good for the economy, and that their lives don’t matter?” Ngarewa-Packer said.

“This is an embarrassment to our country, and a massive step-back in what would have been a world leading strategy” said co-leader Rawiri Waititi.

“It shows that our democracy can be bought.

“It’s clear that this government is run by lobbyists. We cannot allow them to continue feast on the misery of our people.

“This is about saving lives and protecting the next generation” Waititi said.