One of the major anti-smoking scientists and campaigners around the world has charged the New Zealand Government of hypocrisy and sabotaging its own attempts to remove cigarette consumption by 2025.
Prof Stanton Glantz explained the New Zealand Government was investing huge amounts of money on anti-smoking promotion, yet it had spent vast amounts as tax breaks to makers of The Hobbit which had scenes with smoking characters.
”The Government shouldn’t be investing any taxpayer money on films that have smoking scenes,” he said.
”The Hobbit advertises cigarette smoking and cigarette deals to youngsters. Millions of youngsters throughout the world could take up smoking due to this movie.
”If there is The Hobbit 2, the Government should request Peter Jackson if there will be smoking scenes in the film, and if he says yes as it’s artistically needed, then they should say it’s fiscally needed for public health system not to present funding for it.”
Weta Workshops spokeswoman Ri Streeter stated that she could not reply to the movie’s makers, and recommended calling The Hobbit publicist Melissa Booth, who could not be contacted last night.
When considering removing smoking, Prof Glantz, the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education director, is not afraid to adopt a tough stance.
His university has been sued two times by cigarette makers attempting to prohibit his study work, and he has been honored by almost every health association worldwide.
He said he considered New Zealand’s target of removing cigarette consumption by 2025 could be easily achieved, but the Government was not so effective to reach target.
The authorities have already introduced smoke-free areas in public places, increased cigarette taxes, and cigarette promotion bans.
Nevertheless, he said, it also required to create aggressive anti-tobacco media campaigns displaying ”how evil the cigarette companies are and how they manipulate people and politicians”.
An effective advertising campaign on the risks of second-hand smoke also required to be introduced, he said.
Prof Glantz is noted for his study on the dangers of second-hand smoke which came to the conclusion, in terms of heart disease, the risks of second-hand smoke were almost as bad as those of smoking directly.
One of his researches showed a large and rapid decrease in the number of people admitted to the hospital with heart attacks in Helena, Montana, after the community made all public places smokefree.
His work in this area was determined as one of the best research advances for 2005 by the American Heart Association.