New Zealand bans the sale of cigarettes to those born in 2009 or later

New Zealand bans the sale of cigarettes to those born in 2009 or later

New Zealand bans the sale of cigarettes to those born in 2009 or later


New Zealand approved a ban on the sale of tobacco products to anyone born after January 1, 2009, furthering an ambitious plan to create a smoke-free nation that could pave the way for similar policies in other parts of the world.

New Zealand already bans the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18, but new amendments to the law effectively set a rolling age limit that will permanently ban the sale of tobacco to the country’s younger and future generations. Those born before 2009, aged 18 or over, will still be able to purchase tobacco.

“This bill will create generational change and leave a legacy of better health for our young people,” Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said on Tuesday.

Under the new changes, retailers who sell tobacco to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009 — those around 13 years of age or younger today — will face fines of up to NZ$150,000, or about $96,000. The ban will go into effect on January 1, 2027, when those born in 2009 will start turning 18.

The legislation also overhauls several existing tobacco laws, reducing the number of retailers licensed to sell tobacco in New Zealand to 600 and imposing stricter nicotine limits in smoking tobacco products.

“Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the health care system will gain $5 billion from not having to treat diseases caused by smoking, such as numerous types of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, amputations,” Verrall said in a news release. .

The ban comes as other countries consider similar proposals to curb tobacco use. Ireland and Wales have set similar targets to make their countries smoke-free by the decade.

In March, Denmark tabled a proposal to ban the sale of tobacco to those born after 2010, but European Union laws prevented it from enacting the ban. Bhutan passed a sweeping ban on tobacco products in 2010, but an underground market there began to flourish and the government temporarily lifted the ban during the first year of the pandemic.

New Zealand’s bill passed parliament 76-43 with support from left-wing parties, including the main Labor Party. Members of New Zealand National and right-wing ACT New Zealand voted against the ban.

During Tuesday’s parliamentary session, an ACT leader dubbed the new measures a “banning of the nanny state”.

The new laws come as the New Zealand government approaches a self-imposed deadline for a decade-long pledge to eliminate smoking, which began after a 2010 inquiry by the Māori Affairs Committee. The committee, which looks into issues affecting the country’s indigenous population, reported on the health effects of tobacco and its disproportionately severe toll on the Māori population. In 2011, the government pledged to reduce smoking to less than 5% of the population by 2025.

New Zealand bans smoking ensuring today’s young teenagers are never old enough to buy cigarettes

Since then, smoking rates have steadily declined in New Zealand, according to a report released by the Ministry of Health. Eight percent of adults in the country smoke daily, according to the latest New Zealand Health Survey, although smoking rates among the Māori population remain higher, at 19.9%.

Tuesday’s legislation follows years of annual tax hikes on tobacco products and requiring health warnings to be displayed on tobacco packaging as alternatives such as vaping have become popular. However, the data showed that New Zealand would not have achieved its goal without more drastic measures, said Nick Wilson, who studies tobacco control at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

“Progress was happening, 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, can more easily protect its borders from illicit imports.

Even a generational ban on tobacco sales may not be the most important part of the new laws, Wilson added. Clinical trials suggest that limiting nicotine levels in tobacco products will be more effective at reducing smoking rates, Wilson said. Less nicotine can make smoking less satisfying for some, and that “significantly improves the quit rate,” he said.

If New Zealand’s bid to phase out smoking is successful, it may face the more popular alternative: vaping. Underage vaping has increased in recent years and is also widespread among Māori teenagers, advocacy group Action for Smokefree 2025 was founded in November.

“While New Zealand has done well on tobacco control in general, it has until recently taken a rather laissez-faire approach to vaping,” Wilson said. “Maybe there is a need for a vape endgame for New Zealand as well.”

Rachel Pannett contributed to this report.

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