Government looking at all options to hit smokefree targets as politicians give impassioned speeches

There were fiery and impassioned speeches in Parliament last night as the Government stubbed out the incoming smokefree laws.  

It's estimated their repeal will give the Government another $1.5 billion from tobacco taxes in the next four years because more people will keep smoking.  

Pressure is now piling on the Government to reveal its plans to hit New Zealand's smokefree targets.  

"Where is your moral compass?" Labour leader Chris Hipkins asked in the House today.  

"The members opposite might be shaking their heads about the fact that I'm angry about this. My question to them is, why the hell aren't you? Why the hell are you not angry about that to the members opposite because this is a bill that will kill people," Hipkins said.  

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick asked, "Who asked for this?"  

Associate Health Minister Casey Costello, the main driver behind the legislation, said "this Government isn't interested in virtue signalling in health. We are interested in measurable outcomes".   

Swarbrick bit back.  

"More New Zealanders will die as a result of this legislation going through the House. That is a fact, that is the evidence, that is a fact," she said.  

Rachel Hart from the Cancer Society agrees.   

"In short it will mean people die of smoking related illness," she said.  

Treasury certainly expects there'll be more smoking with the plan scrapped to limit tobacco retailers, restrict nicotine levels, and no more smokefree generation.

It said initial analysis suggests the repeal of the three measures would contribute an additional $1.5 billion in revenue by June 2028.  

Swarbrick said, "once again that gives us irrefutable evidence there'll be an increase in consumption of tobacco and more New Zealanders will die".  

Hart said, "it's now on the Government to show us the alternative for how they will reach a smokefree Aotearoa".  

Costello said they are "looking at all options".  

The minister will take proposals to Cabinet next week.   

Newshub understands they will lean heavily on tobacco cessation tools, like vaping.   

But the minister doesn't know what the full suite of measures would be which balance getting smokers off the ciggies and keeping kids of the vapes.  

Costello said they are interested in getting control around disposable vaping.  

"But also how we're allowing that to be displayed," she said.   

But the minister was unable to commit to saving the same number of lives as the measures she's just scrapped.  

"We've got massive reductions already and we just want to keep building on that," she said.