The New Zealand government has announced some of the toughest anti-smoking measures in the world as part of its plan to make the country smoke-free by 2025 – including banning the sale of cigarettes to future generations.
People aged 14 or under when the new laws come into force will ‘never be able to legally purchase tobacco’, the government states. Eighty per cent of New Zealanders who smoke start by the age of 18, with 97 per cent having started by 25.
The government would also be taking steps to reduce the ‘appeal, addictiveness and availability of smoked tobacco products’, it said, with laws permitting only products containing very low-levels of nicotine to be sold alongside ‘a significant reduction’ in the number of shops allowed to sell them. The measures will be accompanied by more support for people trying to quit.
‘This is a historic day for the health of our people,’ said health minister Dr Ayesha Verrall. ‘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, we need to do more, faster to reach our goal. 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. Alongside policies in the action plan that will become law, 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.’
UK charity ASH recently predicted that without ‘radical changes to smoking rates’ the next 20 years would see 2m people in Britain die as a result of smoking, on top of the 8m who have died since the early 1970s. The government’s plan to make England ‘smoke-free’ by 2030 is unlikely to be met, it added (https://www.drinkanddrugsnews.com/people-with-substance-issues-may-be-at-higher-risk-of-covid/)
Regulatory impact statement: Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 action plan at www.health.govt.nz