“This bill will create a generational shift and leave a legacy of better health for our youth,” Deputy Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said on Tuesday.
Under the new changes, retailers that sell tobacco to anyone born on or after January 1. As of January 1, 2009, those who are currently around 13 years of age or younger will face fines of up to NZ$150,000, or around $96,000. The ban will take effect on January 1. 1 of 2027, when those born in 2009 will begin to turn 18 years old.
The legislation also revises several existing tobacco laws by reducing to 600 the number of retailers authorized to sell tobacco in New Zealand and imposing stricter nicotine limits on smoking tobacco products.
“Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the healthcare system will be $5 billion better off not having to treat the diseases caused by smoking, including many types of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, amputations,” Verrall said in a statement. Press release.
The ban comes as other countries are considering similar proposals to curb tobacco use. Ireland and Wales have set similar targets to make their countries smoke free within the decade.
In March, Denmark unveiled a proposal to ban tobacco sales to those born after 2010, but European Union laws prevented him from enacting the ban. Bhutan passed a sweeping ban on tobacco products in 2010, but an underground market began to flourish there and the government temporarily lifted its ban within the first year of the ban. pandemic.
The New Zealand bill passed Parliament 76-43 with the support of left-wing parties, including the main Labor Party. Right-wing members of New Zealand National and ACT New Zealand voted against the ban.
An ACT leader called the new measures a “nanny state ban” during parliamentary session on Tuesday.
The new laws come as the New Zealand government nears a self-imposed deadline for a decade-long commitment to eliminate smoking, which began after a 2010 inquiry by the Maori Affairs Committee. The committee, which examines issues affecting the country’s indigenous population, reported on the health effects of tobacco and its disproportionately severe effect on the Maori population. In 2011, the government committed to reducing smoking to less than 5 percent of the population by 2025.
Smoking rates have been steadily declining in New Zealand since then, according to a report issued by the Ministry of Health. eight percent of the country’s adults smoke daily, according to the latest report from New Zealand Health pollalthough smoking rates among the Maori population are still higher, at 19.9 percent.
Tuesday’s legislation follows years of annual tax increases on tobacco products and mandates to display health warnings on tobacco packages, while alternatives such as vaping have grown in popularity. Still, the data showed that New Zealand would not reach its target without more drastic measures, said Nick Wilson, who studies tobacco control at New Zealand’s University of Otago.
“There was progress being made, but it wasn’t fast enough,” Wilson said.
Wilson said several factors could help New Zealand enforce its ban: the country lacks a large domestic tobacco-growing base, and as an island nation, it can more easily protect its borders against illicit imports.
The generational ban on tobacco sales may not be the most important part of the new laws either, Wilson added. Clinical trials suggest that restricting nicotine levels in tobacco products will be more effective in reducing smoking rates, Wilson said. Less nicotine can make smoking less satisfying for some, and that “drastically improves the quit rate,” he said.
If New Zealand’s attempt to quit smoking is successful, you may need to tackle the more popular alternative next: vaping. Underage vaping has increased in recent years and is also common among Maori adolescents, advocacy group Action for Smokefree 2025 found in November.
“If New Zealand has done well on tobacco control in general, it has until recently taken a fairly laissez-faire approach to vaping,” Wilson said. “Maybe there needs to be an end to vaping for New Zealand too.”
Rachel Pannett contributed to this report.
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