New Zealand Will Ban Cigarettes for All Future Generations
The New Zealand government said it would ban all sales of cigarettes for its future generations, as part of the country’s push to go smoke free by 2025. Anyone born after 2008 will be prohibited from buying cigarettes in their lifetime.
Announced on Thursday, the prohibition means anyone who’s currently age 14 and under will never be able to legally buy tobacco in the country.
“For all the patients I have cared for who have been killed or maimed by tobacco – this one’s for you,” New Zealand’s associate minister of health Ayesha Verrall, said on her personal Twitter.
At present, smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand. It causes one in four cancers and results in 4,000 to 5,000 smoking-related premature deaths every year.
Healthcare officials believe recent crackdowns will effectively eliminate smoking in the nation, making New Zealand the first country in the world to go entirely smoke free.
Along with the ban, Verrall said that support measures will also be introduced to assist people trying to end smoking habits.
The government will also reduce legal nicotine levels in smoked tobacco and slash the number of stores selling them.
According to government data, smoking among adults declined from 18 percent in 2006 to 11.6 percent by 2020. But the rate of smoking is much higher among New Zealand's Māori and Pasifika populations—28.7 percent and 18.3 percent, respectively—which is also why it’s crucial to implement this ban, Verrall said.
“While smoking rates are heading in the right direction, we need to do more, faster to reach our goal. If nothing changes, it would be decades till Māori smoking rates fall below 5 percent, and this government is not prepared to leave people behind,” she said.
But not included in this most recent legislation is a ban on vaping, which studies have shown is about two to three times more prevalent than smoking in New Zealand.
In a 2019 study, 10 percent of surveyed students vaped regularly, or at least once a month. More than 49 percent of these students had been non-smokers before vaping.
Though some health experts praised the government’s new legislation, Karen Chhour, the spokesperson for New Zealand’s opposing right-wing ACT party, has called the new changes “bad policy making.”
“The Government’s gradual ban on all tobacco sales is prohibition plain and simple and it will eventually create a black market,” she said in a statement.
A new law to implement the ban will be made some time in 2022 to give businesses room to transition to a new business model.