Stop the repeal of Smokefree legislation, say respiratory nurses

December 7, 2023

The NZNO college of respiratory nurses demands the Government stop the repeal of the Smokefree legislation.

We are extremely disappointed with the coalition Government’s intent to revoke legislation prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to future generations, lowering nicotine levels and restricting tobacco retailers.


This decision not only jeopardises the strides made in safeguarding the respiratory health of Aotearoa, New Zealand, communities,  but also places a heavier burden on our health-care system for current and future generations.

Why heed the counsel of big tobacco companies and the vape industry over respiratory health specialists? With 5000 Aotearoa New Zealanders succumbing to tobacco-related illnesses annually, repealing the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act will lead to more deaths.

The health and wellbeing of Aotearoa New Zealand people should take precedence over profit. It is imperative to fully implement the Smokefree legislation, with Māori leadership a crucial priority.

In 2010, Māori led the way in response to an inquiry by Parliament’s Māori Affairs committee over tobacco use among Māori, leading to Smokefree recommendations to shield Māori and all Aotearoa New Zealand population groups from tobacco’s harmful effects. Since then, communities have continued to voice their desire for a Smokefree Aotearoa and will be let down again in pursuit of funding tax cuts from tobacco sales.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s global leadership in tobacco control makes it incomprehensible for a new Government to abandon this progress.

This regression undermines the country’s pioneering efforts in public health against smoking, particularly in respiratory health. In 2022, groundbreaking legislation aimed at a smokefree future by 2025 was introduced. The urgency is evident, especially in Māori, Pacific, and low socio-economic neighbourhoods with high smoking rates and tobacco sale points.

We demand the full enactment of the three 2022 measures:

  • Denicotisation of cigarettes to 0.8mg/g
  • Reduction of tobacco outlets from 6000 to 600
  • Implementation of a smokefree generation policy

We cannot afford regression while our whānau continue to suffer due to this harmful product.

The Government of 2023 will bear responsibility for the health of our people and communities if this repeal is allowed.

We, the NZNO college of respiratory nurses, are urging the government to reconsider this repeal and prioritise the health of our people, whānau, and environment, especially the 700,000 individuals living with respiratory conditions.

NZNO college of respiratory nurses

See also: Nurses stand up against ‘incomprehensible’ smokefree rollback.