WELLINGTON –New Zealand has decided to impose a complete ban on the sale of cigarettes to future generations, one of the largest crackdowns on the tobacco industry.
The bold measures will come into effect in 2027 when people aged 14 will never be able to legally purchase tobacco.
The move is part of the government’s Auahi Kore Aotearoa Mahere Rautaki 2025, the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan, which aims to reduce daily smoking prevalence to less than 5 percent for all population groups across the motu by 2025.
Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall while launching action plan at an event in Parliament on Thursday termed it a “historic day for the health of our people”.
She said that smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand and causes one in four cancers. Smoking related harm is particularly prevalent in our Māori, Pacific and low-income communities, she added.
“While smoking rates are heading in the right direction, we need to do more, faster to reach our goal. If nothing changes, it would be decades till Māori smoking rates fall below 5 percent, and this Government is not prepared to leave people behind.
“We’ve already seen the full impact of excise tax increases. The Government recognises that going further will not help people quit, it will only further punish smokers who are struggling to kick the habit. That’s why, our plan, released today contains new measures to help us get to our goal.
“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.
“We are also reducing the appeal, addictiveness and availability of smoked tobacco products. New laws will mean only smoked tobacco products containing very low-levels of nicotine can be sold, with a significant reduction in the number of shops who can sell them.
“The changes will not come into effect immediately, giving retailers time to transition to a new business model.
The health official added that preventing people from starting to smoke and helping those who smoke to quit means we are covering both ends of the spectrum.
“We know it’s really tough to break the habit and some people who smoke will understandably need lots of support leading up to these changes taking effect.
“Budget 2021 provided $36 million for health promotion programmes, scaling up stop smoking services and for Pacific health providers so they can tailor support for Pacific communities.”
“We are establishing a Māori Advisory Taskforce to bring robust decision-making and leadership to the action plan, with a focus on achieving better outcomes for Māori.”