9:43 AM PST, December 11, 2021
In an effort to phase out smoking in the country, the New Zealand government has announced they will now ban anyone born after 2008 from ever being able to buy cigarettes or any other tobacco products.
“This is a historic day for the health of our people,” Associate Minister of Health Dr. Ayesha Verrall said in a statement.
“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.”
“While smoking rates are heading in the right direction,” she added, “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.”
Verrall notes that they are also reducing the appeal, addictiveness, and availability of smoked tobacco products. With the new laws, the only products that will be sold are ones with low levels of nicotine. In addition, they are reducing the number of shops allowed to sell these products.
These changes will not be immediate as they are giving retailers and residents time to adjust to new business models.
The health ministry hopes the bill will pass by the end of 2022.