New Zealand’s health officials revealed plans for a gradual implementation of a lifetime ban on tobacco products. The aim is to make sure “future generations will never be able to legally purchase tobacco.”
Ayesha Verrall, Associate Health Minister, announced a plan to ban smoking on Thursday. While the current minimum age to buy cigarettes is 18, there will be a lifelong ban for people aged 14 or younger – after the law passes, the minimum age to purchase would rise each year.
Places where cigarettes can be sold will be significantly restricted by the government, and nicotine levels in products will be controlled – and only those with “Extremely low” amounts will be allowed on the market.
“These are the best! [people]They and their children will not be allowed to purchase legal tobacco products.,” the minister said, adding, “Our goal is to ensure that people do not start smoking..” The ‘Smokefree Action Plan’ is “An important landmark in the history tobacco control” that will serve as a “Dramatic shifts in the environment are needed to normalize smoking,” Verrall said.
Proposed legislation should become law by next year. However, the amendments will be made in phases. The number of shops that can sell cigarettes in the country will be reduced from around 8,000 to less than 500.
The announcement of the unprecedented bid to effectively ban smoking “This is an historic day in the history of health” of the nation, according to the health minister, who said smoking kills up to 5,000 people a year, and the habit is the leading cause of preventable deaths in New Zealand. Even though there are bans against tobacco advertising, and the prohibition of smoking in public places is still enforced by around 13%. The rate of smoking in indigenous communities is nearly twice that. In 2025, five percent of all smokers will be eliminated by the government.
While Kiwi anti-smoking lobby groups and public health officials praised the efforts, saying their country “Once again, the United States leads the way in global leadership” with the “cutting-edge” plan, producers questioned its effectiveness. The measures will only “Supply should be pushed underground in order to reach the black market,” the local office of British American Tobacco, one of the world’s leading tobacco groups, said in a statement, as quoted by AFP. Other opposition parties said the government’s actions will force smokers to buy more cigarettes to get their nicotine fix.