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Implementation failures in the use of two New Zealand laws to control the tobacco industry: 1989-2005.

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Department of Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, Box 7343 Wellington South, New Zealand.



We reviewed the implementation of New Zealand laws in relation to the activities of the tobacco industry and their allies. Material for two brief case studies was obtained from correspondence with official agencies, official information requests, internet searches (tobacco industry documents and official government sites), and interviews with 12 key informants.


The first case study identified four occasions over a period of 14 years where New Zealand Government agencies appeared to fail to enforce consumer protection law, although apparent breaches by the tobacco industry and their allies had occurred in relation to statements on the relative safety of secondhand smoke. The second case study examined responses to a legal requirement for the tobacco industry to provide information on tobacco additives. There was failure to enforce the law, and a failure of the political process for at least 13 years to clarify and strengthen the law. Relevant factors in both these cases of 'policy slippage' appear to have been financial and opportunity costs of taking legal action, political difficulties and the fragmented nature of government structures.


Considered together, these case studies suggest the need for governments to: (i) make better use of national consumer laws (with proper monitoring and enforcement) in relation to tobacco; and (ii) to strengthen international law and resources around tobacco-related consumer protection. A number of options for achieving these aims are available to governments.

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