New Zealand to ban cigarettes for future generations .
New Zealand has announced it will outlaw smoking for the next generation, so that those who are aged 14 and under today will never be legally able to buy tobacco.
New legislation means the legal smoking age will increase every year, to create a smoke-free generation of New Zealanders, associate health minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said on Thursday.
“This is a historic day for the health of our people,” she said.
The government announced the rising age alongside other measures to make smoking unaffordable and inaccessible, to try to reach its goal of making the country entirely smoke-free within the next four years. Other measures include reducing the legal amount of nicotine in tobacco products to very low levels, cutting down the shops where cigarettes could legally be sold, and increasing funding to addiction services. The new laws will not restrict vape sales.
“We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we will make it an offence to sell or supply smoked tobacco products to new cohorts of youth. People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco,” Verrall said.
The policies were welcomed by public health experts on Thursday. “New Zealand once again leads the world – this time with a cutting-edge smoke-free 2025 implementation plan – it’s truly a game changer,” said Dr Natalie Walker, director of the Centre for Addiction Research at University of Auckland.
The reduction of nicotine in cigarettes was a world first, said Chris Bullen, a public health professor. From a health perspective, “all my wishes have come true”, he said.
Smoking has already been widely replaced by vaping among teenage New Zealanders, and is also attracting many young people who would never have taken up smoking – according to surveying of 19,000 high school students this year, nearly 20% were vaping daily or several times a day, the majority with high nicotine doses. That’s compared to 3% of those aged 15-17 who smoked daily in 2018, or 13% who smoked a decade earlier.
The plan has come under criticism from some parties – the Act party has argued that reducing the nicotine in products will hit lower-income people hardest, who will have to buy more cigarettes and smoke more to access the same dose. Verrall said the very low levels required by the laws had been researched and proven to help people quit.
What's Your Reaction?