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Exploring indigenous perspectives on tobacco tax: how some Māori families are responding in Aotearoa New Zealand
  1. Heather Gifford1,
  2. Andrew Waa2,
  3. Lynley Cvitanovic1,
  4. Gill Potaka-Osborne1,
  5. Anania Kerehoma-Cook3
  1. 1Whakauae Research for Maori Health and Development, Whanganui, New Zealand
  2. 2Department of Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  3. 3Kokiri Marae Keriana Olsen Trust, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Heather Gifford, Whakauae Research for Maori Health and Development, Whanganui 4500, New Zealand; heather{at}whakauae.co.nz

Abstract

Objective High smoking prevalence rates, combined with a steep tax on tobacco and lower household income, mean that 5% of Māori (indigenous) whānau (family unit) expenditure in New Zealand is on tobacco. This paper outlines whānau perceptions of, and behavioural responses to, increasing tobacco tax.

Methods This qualitative study was informed by the Kaupapa Māori theory and used a simplified interpretive phenomenological analysis thematic hybrid methodology. A semistructured, open-ended interview guide was designed and used in one-off focus group interviews.

Setting and participants Interviews were separately conducted with each of 15 whānau units. A total of 72 participants, most of whom were smokers, took part in the interviews carried out in two geographical regions: one rural/provincial and one urban.

Results Whānau were concerned about the rising cost of tobacco. However, this concern had not generally translated into quit attempts. Whānau had instead developed innovative tobacco-related practices. Working collectively within their whānau, they were able to continue to smoke, although in a modified fashion, despite the rising costs of tobacco. Whānau thereby resisted the intended outcome of the government’s tobacco tax which is to reduce rates of smoking prevalence.

Conclusion In the face of significant government disinvestment in New Zealand tobacco control over the last 10 years, hypothecated taxes should be used to scale up Māori-specific cessation and uptake prevention programmes, supporting authentic Māori partnerships for endgame solutions including restricting the availability and appeal of tobacco.

  • taxation
  • public policy
  • priority/special populations

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Footnotes

  • Contributors HG: substantial contributions to the conception and design of the work, acquisition and analysis of data, drafting of the work, revising it critically for important intellectual content, final approval of the version published and agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy/integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. AW: substantial contributions to the conception and design of the work, analysis of data, drafting the work, revising it critically for important intellectual content, final approval of the version published and agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy/integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. LC: substantial contributions to the analysis of data, drafting the work, revising it critically for important intellectual content, final approval of the version published and agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy/integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. GP-O: substantial contributions to the analysis of data, revising the work critically for important intellectual content, final approval of the version published and agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy/integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. AK-C: substantial contributions to the acquisition and the analysis of data, revising the work critically for important intellectual content, final approval of the version published and agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy/integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding This study was funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

  • Disclaimer The researchers and authors have received no financial support from the tobacco industry and have no formal or informal partnerships with the industry.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The University of Otago Human Ethics Committee (D17/401) reviewed and approved the study.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. All participant data have been deidentified.

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