Smokefree activist says a ban on cigarettes would be premature: 'You make criminals of people previously addicted'

Banning cigarettes in New Zealand would be a premature and unjust step for those already addicted, a smoke-free activist says after calls for the government to take that drastic move.

Health experts this week judged the government's goal of a smoke free country by 2025 as unrealistic, and only achievable by banning smoking.

Action for Smokefree Atearoa's Boyd Broughton said there are a number of steps that need to be taken before New Zealand as a country considers banning smoking. 

"There's probably a few things we need to do beforehand, and one of them is we need to discriminate against tobacco with legislation," Mr Broughton said.

"We need to make it unpalatable, we need to make it unaffordable, and we need to make sure that the nicotine levels inside it are lowered so that it's less addictive."

Mr Broughton said alternatives such as gums, patches, lozenges, and vapes need to become more attractive, affordable and more accessible to communities.

While agreeing the goal of a smoke free New Zealand by 2025 was not going to happen on existing trends, Mr Broughton said an abrupt ban on cigarettes was too drastic.

"The problem with banning something is that if it's legal and then one day it's banned you make criminals of people who were previously addicted to it and that's the issue that we face if we make it illegal immediately," Mr Broughton said.

"So there needs to be steps in place, build up the country's resilience and resistance."

Mr Broughton also highlighted the fact Maori are twice as high in smoking rates than the rest of New Zealand.

"The main reason is that they were unfairly targeted by the tobacco industry in the 1980s and 1970s, and they were saturated," he said.

"Even a recently as last decade ago there was still heavier marketing, heavier retail outlets of tobacco in those communities, those poor brown communities than there were say in Ponsonby."

That’s in response to health experts who say banning cigarettes is the only way NZ will reach the smoke free by 2025 goal. Source: Breakfast

Watch: Snow transforms parts of deep south into night-time winter wonderland as big chill hits the country

As wintry weather hits the country snow has fallen in the deep south and Kiwis have been quick to photograph the white powder.

TVNZ1 Breakfast viewers have sent in photos of the snow falling where they are.

Read more: Wintry weather brings snow and ice forcing closure of Desert Road and Crown Range road

Breakfast weatherman Matty McLean has the latest forecast. Source: Breakfast

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Snow and ice has forced the closure of the Desert Rd and the Crown Range road. Source: Breakfast



'Shock to the system' - Kiwis warned to brace for coldest winter 'for quite some time'

The sharp dip in temperatures this week does point to one of the coldest New Zealand winters in years, according to a MetService meteorologist.

The entire country has has awoken in a chill this morning, with the warmest national temperature as of 6am today a miserable 12.5C in Kaitaia - everywhere else is colder.

MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths says the stormy chill this week is forecast to continue into next week - which should be "unusually cold even for June".

"Very sunny in the afternoon, but cold, and frost, next week looks very frosty, so we're going to have to watch out for frost next week," Ms Griffiths says. 

Ms Griffiths said it is true to say 2018 has so far been a year of extremes, and at least for June that will be continuing.

Snow is still falling on Cadrona ski filed. Source: Twitter / Snow Forecast

"The first part of this year was abnormally warm. Now all of the drivers for abnormal warmth have gone, in fact they diminished about six weeks ago so the trend is down," Ms Griffiths said.

"Once we hit June, of course, we may see the back half of June looking closer to (monthly) average but that doesn't matter because we're into June."

But it isn't all bad, depending on your outdoor hobbies.

"There are some silver linings to this cold. The ski fields have been extremely happy this week with two or three really deep dumps of snow in the south so far," Ms Griffiths said.

"We know the roads are closed. The North Island has also seen some sprinkles, so excellent stuff.

"We've seen good snow, early snow down south. We've had depth of snow now, we'll get another 40cm or so today. We're at that point of the year where it will lie now."

With heavy snow warnings in force again across much of the country today, it is set to be cold leading into, and continuing through, the weekend.

Auckland's relatively warm 17C today compared to the rest of the country looks like 15C by Saturday.

Christchurch will be lucky to hit 10C tomorrow, with a southerly wind that will make that feel much colder.  

This morning it's about 0C in Queenstown, with a frosty high of 7C.

Looking further ahead, the 2018 winter looks closer to a historically average temperature for the season - which may be a shock to Kiwis after two years of unusually mild winters.

"We haven't had a winter that's been near average for quite some time," Ms Griffiths said.

"So 2016 was really abnormally warm, last year more of less warm until the end of June, so I think it might be a bit of a shock to the system, not to mention the power bill."

MetServices’s Georgina Griffiths says this week’s chill is set to stay, in what’s predicted to be the coldest winter in years. Source: Breakfast