New draft laws being put forward by New Zealand’s parliament will create a complete cigarette ban by 2027, meaning people born after 2008 will never be able to purchase a cigarette in their lifetime. The government has planned these curbs, one of the toughest crackdowns in the world, after arguing that other efforts to tackle smoking were taking too long.
“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,” New Zealand Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall said in a statement.
“If nothing changes, it would be decades till Māori smoking rates fall below five per cent, and this government is not prepared to leave people behind.”
Currently, 11.6 per cent of all New Zealanders aged over 15 smoke, a proportion that rises to 29 per cent among indigenous Maori adults, according to government figures.
The restrictions would then be rolled out in stages from 2024, beginning with a sharp reduction in the number of authorized sellers, followed by reduced nicotine requirements in 2025 and the creation of the “smoke-free” generation from 2027.
Bhutan is currently the only nation in the world that has stricter laws than those proposed by the New Zealand government, as they already have a complete cigarette ban in place.
“Cigarette smoking kills 14 New Zealanders every day and two out of three smokers will die as a result of smoking,” said New Zealand Medical Association chair Alistair Humphrey in a statement.
“This action plan offers some hope of realizing our 2025 Smokefree Aotearoa goal, and keeping our tamariki (Maori children) smokefree.”
Critics say while they support a smoke-free country, the government’s plan would destroy many businesses.
“This is all 100 per cent theory and zero per cent substance,” the chairman of the Dairy and Business Owners Group, Sunny Kaushal, told Stuff.co.nz. “There’s going to be a crime wave. Gangs and criminals will fill the gap with ciggie houses alongside tinnie houses.”
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