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New Zealand to ban smoking for future generations

New Zealand’s health ministry has released legislation to increase the legal smoking age every year, making it illegal for anyone born after 2008 to purchase tobacco products.

The legislation, expected to be enacted next year, was put forward to achieve a national goal of reducing its national smoking rate to 5% by 2025, to attempt to make the country smoke-free. Daily smoking rates have been dropping over time, from 18% in 2008 to 11.6% a decade later.

Other measures to achieve this goal include drastically reducing the legal amount of nicotine in tobacco products, restricting where they could be legally sold from 8000mg to 500mg, and increasing funding to addiction services.

Vape sales, however, will not be restricted, despite warnings from New Zealand health authorities of the hazardous, cancer-causing agents found in e-cigarettes and vape liquids.

Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said the ban intends “to make sure young people never start smoking.”

The policies have received huge amounts of praise from the New Zealand medical community. Dr Natalie Walker, director of the Centre for Addiction Research at University of Auckland, applauded the policies, saying “New Zealand once again leads the world – this time with a cutting-edge smoke-free 2025 implementation plan – it’s truly a game changer.”

Prof Janet Hook from the University of Otago claimed “it will help people quit or switch to less harmful products, and make it much less likely that young people get addicted to nicotine.”

The health ministry’s official impact statement acknowledged a possible black market for tobacco, saying “customs will need more resource to enforce border control.”

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Jim Gell

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January 2022
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