Key issues, asks ahead of election

On September 16, 170 health professionals from across New Zealand attended the Health Coalition Aotearoa Political e-Forum to hear six of the political parties’ spokespeople discuss their positions on their party’s prevention policies. At that stage several parties had yet to release their health manifestos Below is a summary of the main questions and concerns raised at the Political e-Forum by participants. These are the key issues and key asks of the political parties ahead of the New Zealand General Election tomorrow (October 17). General Will your party act on reducing the supply of tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food outlets in low social-economic communities? How will your party meet their Treaty obligations to protect Maori from harmful products like tobacco, alcohol and junk food that is causing unacceptable health inequities? What will your party do to reduce the affordability, accessibility and availability of the three key harmful products impacting New Zealander’s health – tobacco, alcohol and junk food? Given how much the Government depended on public health evidence to successfully manage Covid in NZ, how will your party continue this approach to evidence in relation to other pandemics such as childhood obesity? Tobacco When will the Smokefree Action Plan of achieving the 2025 goal be finalized, announced and implemented? Will you commit to its implementation in the first 100 days? Alcohol How does your party plan to meet its Treaty Obligations to prevent alcohol harm to Maori, which has slowly got worse, and the inequity gap has grown over the last 180 years. When will we see much needed alcohol legislative reform such as taxes and restrictions on trading hours and alcohol marketing and promotion? The affordability of alcohol has now reached an all-time high. What will your party do to turn down the tap on affordability? How do you plan to address the challenges faced at local government level where local alcohol policies have been thwarted by industry interference? Food Given the staggering evidence base in support, including modelling showing the cost savings, and the overwhelming public support – will your party introduce a sugary drinks levy? How will you protect our children, and uphold the Government’s commitment under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by reducing the amount of junk food marketing they are exposed to? Will your party look at ensuring all schools and ECEs are healthy settings for children, with healthy food policies rolled out nation-wide? Commercial interests How are you going to prevent lobby groups in influencing the policymaking processes towards solutions in terms of reducing obesity and tobacco/alcohol related harms? Do you anticipate that the Food Industry Taskforce will continue to be a key approach to addressing obesity even though many of the accepted recommendations are not key evidence-based interventions?