New Zealand plans lifetime ban on cigarettes for young generations

Dec 10 , 2021. 14 hours ago – 19:25 KYODO NEWS

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. (Getty/Kyodo)

SYDNEY – The New Zealand government announced Thursday plans to introduce a lifetime ban on the sale of cigarettes to young generations, as part of the country’s goal to be “smokefree” by 2025.

Under the plan, people aged 14 and below when the law comes into effect will never be able to purchase tobacco legally.

“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,” Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall said in a statement.

“As they age, they and future generations will never be able to legally purchase tobacco because the truth is there is no safe age to start smoking,” Verrall said.

The new laws will also seek to reduce the “appeal, addictiveness and availability” of cigarettes by only allowing the sale of smoked tobacco products containing very low levels of nicotine, and significantly reducing the number of shops that can sell them.

The proposed legislation will be introduced into parliament in June next year, with the aim of making it law by the end of 2022.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern backed the tough new measures, telling reporters that “continuing to increase prices will not at this point continue to help people stop smoking.”

However, Karen Chhour, a member of the opposition ACT party and self-described “former smoker,” insisted prohibition has never worked and always has unintended consequences.

“Eventually, we will end up with a black market for tobacco, with no standards or regulation, and people will be harmed,” Chhour said in a statement.

Smoking is currently the leading cause of preventable death among New Zealand’s population of 5 million, and causes one in four cancers nationwide.