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New Zealand to ban sale of tobacco to those born after 2008 to phase out smoking completely

It will result in reducing the number of people who can purchase tobacco each year. For instance, 40-year-olds won't be old enough to buy tobacco by 2050.

New Zealand to ban sale of tobacco to those born after 2008 to phase out smoking completely
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 22: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks in Parliament on April 22, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images)

A rule passed by the New Zealand parliament this month prohibits those born after 2008 from purchasing cigarettes or other tobacco products during their lifetime. Health Minister Dr. Ayesha Verall stated: "We want to make sure young people never start smoking." The reform is a part of a broad anti-smoking campaign unveiled by New Zealand's health ministry in December 2022. The "world-leading" efforts, which will limit access to tobacco and the amount of nicotine in cigarettes, have been praised by doctors and other health professionals in the nation. "It will help people quit or switch to less harmful products, and make it much less likely that young people get addicted to nicotine," Prof Janet Hook from the University of Otago told BBC

The public reaction to the crackdown has been mixed. "I reckon it's a good move, really," one man told Reuters news agency. "Because right now there's a lot of young kids walking around with smokes in their mouth. People are enquiring as to where they obtain these cigarettes. And it's also good for myself too because I can save more money."

Others have cautioned that the decision might lead to the emergence of a tobacco black market, a concern that is acknowledged in the health ministry's official impact statement, which notes that "customs will need more resource to enforce border control." Sunny Kaushal, chairman of the Dairy and Business Owners Group—a lobby group for local convenience stores— told New Zealand's Stuff news site that "this is all 100% theory and 0% substance. There's going to be a crime wave. Gangs and criminals will fill the gap."


The new law will reduce the number of people who can purchase tobacco each year. 40-year-olds, for instance, won't be old enough to purchase cigarettes by 2050. "Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the health system will be NZ$5 billion (US$3.2 billion) better off from not needing to treat the illnesses caused by smoking," Dr. Verrall said.

New Zealand is resolved to lower its national smoking rate to less than 5% by 2025, with the ultimate goal of eliminating it altogether. As of now, 13% of New Zealand's adults smoke, with the indigenous Maori population smoking at a far higher rate of nearly a third. Maori also have a higher sickness and mortality rate.


New Zealand's health ministry stated that, smoking causes one in every four cancers and is the biggest cause of preventable death for its five million-strong population. For more than a decade, politicians have targeted the tobacco industry. As part of its current campaign against smoking, the government also implemented strict tobacco regulations, such as regulating where cigarettes may be sold in order to remove them from supermarkets and corner stores. Officials predict the number of outlets authorized to sell cigarettes will be decreased from over 8,000 to around 500.

Vaping—the act of smoking e-cigarettes that generate a vapor that carries nicotine—has grown significantly more popular among younger generations than cigarettes in recent years. However, New Zealand's health experts caution that vaping is not risk-free. Cancer-causing chemicals have also been discovered in e-cigarette vapors, according to researchers. The new legislation does not prohibit the use of vape products, which was initially a method to assist smokers in quitting cigarettes.

Critics of the bill, like the ACT party, which has 10 seats in parliament, have warned that it will feed an underground market in tobacco products and kill out small shops. "No one wants to see people smoke, but the reality is, some will and Labour's nanny state prohibition is going to cause problems," said ACT Deputy Leader Brooke van Velden.

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