New Zealand to ban sale of cigarettes to future generations

New Zealand to ban sale of cigarettes to future generations

THE NEW Zealand Associate Minister of Health has announced a scope of new measures in an effort to make the country smoke-free.

As part of the government's Smoke-free 2025 Action Plan, those aged 14 and under in 2027 will never be able to purchase cigarettes, in what is one of the toughest crackdowns on smoking in the world.

"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," the Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said in a statement.

"People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco.

"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."

Smoking currently kills approximately 4,500-5,000 people a year in the country of five million.

Current measures are working too slowly, and the minister said it "would be decades till Māori smoking rates fall below 5 percent, and this Government is not prepared to leave people behind."

The Action Plan also says that the country's goal of being smoke-free by 2025 "will be impossible to achieve with a 'business as usual' approach."

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.

Practical support measures for smokers are also being prioritised.

"Preventing people from starting to smoke and helping those who smoke to quit means we are covering both ends of the spectrum," the Minister continued.

"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."