New Zealand to have world’s first smoke-free military by 2020

New Zealand has kicked off World No Tobacco Day by announcing a plan for its defence force to become the world’s first smoke-free military by 2020.

Initiatives to achieve the goal include banning the sale of cigarettes on camps and bases and making NZ defence force housing smokefree. It will also evolve camps and bases into smokefree environments, and continue to promote and support smoking cessation and the benefits of a smokefree NZ defence force.

The plan was announced at an event hosted by ASH New Zealand in Parliament to mark World No Tobacco Day. ASH Chair, Emeritus Professor Robert Beaglehole welcomed the plan. “This is a huge milestone, the New Zealand Defence Force is one of the largest employers in New Zealand with over 14,000 personnel, and the biggest Government department to go smokefree.”

The 2020 target date is five years ahead of the New Zealand government’s Smoke Free 2025 goal, which aims to reduce adult daily smoking prevalence to below 5%.

“ASH applauds the NZDF, not just for their commitment to the 2025 goal, but for showing the leadership to beat the goal by five years. We hope this decisive action can be an example to other government agencies and major employers of the type of leadership needed to reach Smokefree 2025” Beaglehole added.

While the 2020 goal is a welcome step forward, Beaglehole noted “Progress towards the Government’s smoke free 2025 goal is far too slow, especially for Maori and Pacifica, and poor people generally. There are also simple measures the government can introduce, such as increasing targeted mass and social media campaigns. ASH is committing our resources to supporting all policymakers to set a strong, evidence based roadmap to get us to Smokefree 2025”.