New Zealand has announced plan to ban the sale of tobacco to its future generation, in a bid to ultimately phase out smoking in the country.
The implication is that anyone born after 2008 will not be able to purchase cigarettes or tobacco products in their lifetime, under a law expected to be passed in 2022.
According to the Health Minister, Dr Ayesha Verall, “We want to make sure young people never start smoking,”
The decision is part of a sweeping crackdown on smoking announced by New Zealand’s health ministry on Thursday.
Doctors and other health experts in the country have welcomed the “world-leading” reforms, which will reduce access to tobacco and restrict nicotine levels in cigarettes.
“It will help people quit or switch to less harmful products, and make it much less likely that young people get addicted to nicotine,” said Prof Janet Hook from the University of Otago.
However, others have warned that the move may create a black market for tobacco.
“This is all 100% theory and 0% substance,” Sunny Kaushal, chairman of the Dairy and Business Owners Group, a lobby group for local convenience stores, told New Zealand’s Stuff news site. “There’s going to be a crime wave. Gangs and criminals will fill the gap”.
New Zealand is determined to achieve a national goal of reducing its national smoking rate to 5% by 2025, with the aim of eventually eliminating it altogether.
At the moment, 13% of New Zealand’s adults smoke.
New Zealand’s health ministry says smoking causes one in four cancers and remains the leading cause of preventable death for its five million strong population. The industry has been the target of legislators for more than a decade now.
As part of the crackdown announced on Thursday, the government also introduced major tobacco controls, including significantly restricting where cigarettes can be sold to remove them from supermarkets and corner stores.
The number of shops authorised to sell cigarettes will be drastically reduced to under 500 from about 8,000 now, officials said.