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Pacific island 'to pay smokers to quit'

Date 16 Oct 2007
Author The Editor

A South Pacific island has come up with a radical plan to improve public health - pay smokers to give up. The tiny nation of Niue - which has a population of 1,500 - looks set to become one of the first countries in the world to ban smoking.

Premier Vivian Young says it would be cheaper to pay the island's 200 smokers to quit than to keep paying for the treatment they are likely to need as a result of their habits. Those giving up could expect to receive up to 2,000 New Zealand dollars - about £755.

Mr Young said: "Of course I am serious. If your health bill is climbing beyond NZ$200,000, up to NZ$1m per year then it is preferable to pay [smokers to quit]. We are having referral cases to New Zealand. We send three, four, five per week because of smoke-related diseases."

Earlier this month, Niue announced it would table a bill in the state's parliament banning smoking in all public places, work sites, government departments and tourist areas. It would also have a clause making it possible for villages to ban smoking.

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