Letter |Smokefree 2025: patterns and trends in references to the smokefree goal in political speeches and press releases
New research published in the New Zealand Medical Journal by ASPIRE 2025 researchers suggests the Government’s goal to achieve a Smokefree New Zealand by 2025 may be failing to gather the political momentum needed to ensure it is achieved.
Analysis of political press releases and speeches from April 2010 through until December 2013 shows that, despite smokefree 2025 being a world-leading public health goal, politicians made only infrequent reference to the goal, a pattern that has changed little over time. The goal was first adopted by Government in 2011.
The exception is Associate Minister of Health and Maori Party Co-leader Tariana Turia who, with 40 mentions, accounted for 59% of all references to the goal. Health Minister Tony Ryall made two references.
ASPIRE 2025 Co-Director Professor Richard Edwards says robust political leadership from across the political spectrum is needed so that a world-leading goal with cross-party support is given high political priority and features prominently in political and public debate.
“We congratulate the government for its global leadership in adopting the Smokefree 2025 goal. However, even though eliminating tobacco smoking would likely be the most significant public health achievement of the 21st century – and achieving Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025 would be a world first – this study suggests it is not yet a high priority for politicians in New Zealand. We think it should be.
“A good start would be to include the goal within the Better Public Service goals, and for the government to develop and implement a whole-of-government strategy to ensure the goal is reached.”
To read the full letter to the New Zealand Medical Journal, please view here (note password access is required until February 2015) or please contact:
University of Otago Wellington
Citation: Edwards, R., Hoek, J., Thomson, G. (2014) Smokefree 2025: patterns and trends in references to the smokefree goal in political speeches and press releases. N Z Med J 2014; 127 (1398) 122-125