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Issues of Tobacco, Alcohol, and other Drug Abuse for Māori

Young Māori man holding his hand out to say 'no' to someone offering him a beer

Tobacco, alcohol and other drug-related harm is experienced by Māori at a higher rate than non-Māori.

In recognition of its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi, the Crown has committed to addressing these disparities for Māori in health legislation and policy over the past two decades. However, despite this commitment, there has been little improvement in these disparities.

This report traces key legislative and policy developments, and Māori responses, to understand how the Crown has addressed issues of tobacco, alcohol and other drug abuse for Māori.

As detailed throughout the report, there are number of interventions available to the Crown to minimise drug-related harm to society.

Broadly, these involve:

  • Supply control (reducing the availability of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, including through legislation and regulations such as licensing requirements, restricted trading premises and hours, age restrictions, enforcement; and policing the manufacturing, selling, and trafficking of illegal drugs);

  • Demand reduction (reducing the desire to use tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, including through health promotion, education campaigns, restrictions on advertising and marketing, increasing prices and tax); and

  • Problem limitation (reducing existing drug-related harm by providing tobacco, alcohol and other drug treatment services; safer equipment and environments for drug use – such as needle exchange programmes and opioid substitution treatment; and research and workforce training).

This report provides an overview of how the Crown has prioritised and used available interventions and strategies, particularly over the past two decades. It also examines whether the Crown’s actions or inactions have impacted on the disparities in drug-related harm experienced by Māori.

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