New Zealand wants to ban tobacco to the next generation and become effectively “smoke free” within the next four years. It is the so-called smoke-free action plan for 2025, which predicts that by the end of next year those under the age of 14 will never be legally able to buy tobacco. In addition, the legal smoking age will be gradually raised, year after year. The new law will also reduce the number of shops that can sell tobacco from 2024 and will only allow them to sell products that have very low levels of nicotine from 2025. (PASSIVE SMOKING: RISKS FOR CHILDREN)
“We want to make sure young people never start smoking,” said Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall. In New Zealand, smoking has progressively decreased, but it still constitutes a plague among the Maori and Pasifika minorities. Currently, about 13% of New Zealand adults smoke, down from 18% about a decade ago. But the rate is much higher – around 31% – among the indigenous Maori population who also suffer from a higher rate of disease and death.
The irreversible damage of smoking
New Zealand’s health ministry says smoking causes one in four cancers and remains the leading preventable cause of death for its five million people. The industry has now been in the sights of lawmakers for more than a decade. As part of the crackdown announced on Thursday, the government also introduced important tobacco controls, including a significant restriction of where cigarettes can be sold to remove them from supermarkets and corner shops. The number of stores authorized to sell cigarettes will be drastically reduced to fewer than 500 from around 8,000 today, officials say.
In recent years, vaping – smoking e-cigarettes that produce a vapor that also delivers nicotine – has become much more popular among the younger generation than cigarettes. However, New Zealand health authorities warn that vaping is not harmless. Researchers have also found dangerous and carcinogenic agents in e-cigarette liquids. But in 2017 the country still adopted vaping as a method to help smokers quit smoking.