New Zealand Announces Plan to Slowly Ban Smoking Tobacco So 'Young People Never Start'

A bill regarding the proposed smoke-free plan is expected to appear before Parliament in mid-2022

man smoking a cigarette
Photo: Getty

New Zealand is aiming to roll out a plan that would prohibit smoking tobacco for the next generation.

"People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco," said Associate Health Minister Dr. Ayesha Verrall during a Thursday news conference, per CNN.

The goal is to reduce daily smoking to under 5% for all population groups across the country by 2025, according to a release from the Ministry of Health.

To do so, New Zealand legislators are considering a plan that features "ground-breaking policies," such as gradually raising the legal age for buying tobacco.

Under the proposed legislation, selling or providing smoked tobacco products to individuals "born after a certain date" would be prohibited. Additionally, it would be illegal to design smoked tobacco products "in ways that would keep smokers addicted."

Dr Ayesha Verrall
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To make it harder to obtain tobacco products, the country would reduce the number of shops permitted to sell tobacco and decrease nicotine levels in smoked tobacco products.

The Ministry of Health hopes this new initiative will help "kickstart a smokefree generation" as well as "help people who smoke to quit," per Thursday's release.

According to government data from 2020, 13.4% of New Zealand adults were classified as smokers, down from 18.2% nearly 15 years ago in 2006-07.

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An extra $13.875 million was put towards additional stop smoking services in the country's 2021 budget and another $12.750 million towards smoke-free health promotion and community mobilization, per the Ministry of Health.

A bill regarding the proposed smoke-free plan is expected to appear before Parliament in mid-2022.

Man Smoking Cigarette

Population Health and Prevention Group Manager Jane Chambers said in Thursday's release that smoking rates in the country are still heading "in the right direction" but acknowledged that there is still progress to be made.

"Smoking kills approximately 4,500 to 5,000 people every year in New Zealand — that is around 12 to 13 deaths every day due to smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke," said Chambers. "Smoked tobacco products take too many lives, and the impacts disproportionately affect Māori and Pacific people."

During Thursday's news conference, Verrall said, "We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we will make it an offense to sell or supply smoked tobacco products to new cohorts of youth," per CNN.

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