The story doesn’t begin with the government’s proposal, but this was the event that triggered a spate of attacks on New Zealand’s leading harm reduction advocate. “Criminalising smoking in the car will disproportionately target Māori women and it will lead to fines, people unable to pay the fines, penalties added and eventually imprisonment,” said Martyn Bradbury.
“No one wants to see the next generation cursed by second-hand smoke, but criminalising this isn't the solution. Why is it whenever the largest group who will be punished by a law are Māori, no one bothers to consider the counter-productive elements of such a law?”
Marewa Glover considered it – and fully agreed with Bradbury.
"This proposal is a waste of time - it's not going to make any difference," she told The New Zealand Health Select Committee. “My proposition is: if you don't want people smoking around children, please put the money, time and effort into effective interventions to help those parents quit."
Earlier, Marewa told The AM Show: “The Bill is discriminatory and will negatively impact the poor and Māori the most.”
The UK adopted a similar policy that was declared an absolute failure by police representatives. Over the first 7 months, only 3 from 42 police forces in England & Wales carried out any stops. None of those stops resulted in anything other than a verbal warning and no drivers were issued with a £50 fine.
Devon and Cornwall Police Federation’s Nigel Rabbits call it “poor legislation” and said it bred confusion among officers.
The response to Marewa’s comments was almost instantaneous. Simon Chapman took to Twitter to attack her personally and branded her a mouthpiece for tobacco companies. Others followed in his wake.
She responded: "They want to silence me. They've got to discredit me because it undermines their singing from the same song sheet and I'm singing a different song and it's like, shoot that bird."
Glover advocates that pregnant women should switch from smoking to vaping and is highly critical of mainstream tobacco control practices. Marewa is now in discussion with lawyers and we hope she achieves satisfaction.
Michelle Minton and Clive Bates have both written about how the tobacco control community deal with those they perceive as heretics. Both pieces are linked below.