New Zealand To Consider Ban On Smoking For People Born After 2004
People born after 2004 in New Zealand could be banned buying cigarettes, as part of proposals to stub out smoking.
It comes as the lawmakers push towards the country’s goal of being smoke-free by 2025, with a ban on smoking which would essentially make it illegal for younger generations, in addition to gradually increasing the legal age required to buy tobacco at all.
Other proposals could see the prohibition of filters, a significant reduction in the level of nicotine permitted in tobacco products, minimum pricing and putting limits on where these products can be bought.
As reported by The Guardian, associate health minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said: ‘We need a new approach. About 4,500 New Zealanders die every year from tobacco, and we need to make accelerated progress to be able to reach that goal. Business-as-usual without a tobacco control program won’t get us there.’
The plans have been backed by public health organisations, such as New Zealand’s Cancer Society, with chief executive Lucy Elwood pointing out the high number of tobacco retailers in low-income communities.
She said: ‘This proposal goes beyond assisting people to quit. These glaring inequities are why we need to protect future generations from the harms of tobacco. Tobacco is the most harmful consumer product in history and needs to be phased out.’
Smoking rates are also particularly notable among Māori and Pasifika New Zealanders, with Shane Kawenata Bradbrook, who’s long campaigned for smoke-free Māori communities, saying the proposals ‘will begin the final demise of tobacco products in this country.’
He added: ‘For too long the tobacco industry has been addicting our people, fleecing them of their money before we have to bury them in urupa [burial grounds] all over this land. I am looking forward to truly making this a sunset industry in this corner of the world.’
The plans attracted criticism from the country’s right-wing ACT party, who claimed poorer people would feel inclined to spend and smoke more as a result.
Karen Chhour, the ACT’s social development and children spokesperson, said: ‘New Zealand smokers who can least afford it will spend more on their habit and in turn do harm to those around them if the government mandates lower nicotine.’
While smoking is still common, attitudes towards cigarettes and tobacco have changed drastically over the past five years. Vapes are extremely popular, and some experts think smoking will become a thing of the past over the next 10–20 years.
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