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09th Dec 2021

New Zealand planning to ban cigarette sales to future generations

Stephen Porzio

New smoking-related restrictions would be rolled out in stages from 2024 under the plans.

New Zealand has announced plans to ban the sale of cigarettes to future generations as part of its Government’s plan to make the country “smoke-free”.

Speaking at the launch of the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan, New Zealand Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the country and that smoking-related harm is particularly prevalent in its Māori, Pacific and low income communities.

She added that while smoking rates in New Zealand were “heading in the right direction”, the country needed to do more and work faster to reach its goal.

“If nothing changes, it would be decades till Māori smoking rates fall below 5 percent, and this Government is not prepared to leave people behind,” she said.

“We’ve already seen the full impact of excise tax increases. The Government recognises that going further will not help people quit, it will only further punish smokers who are struggling to kick the habit.”

She said the new plans contain fresh measures to help the Government achieve its goals.

smoking age

“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.

“People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco.

“We are also reducing the appeal, addictiveness and availability of smoked tobacco products. New laws will mean only smoked tobacco products containing very low-levels of nicotine can be sold, with a significant reduction in the number of shops who can sell them.”

Verrall explained that the changes will not come into effect immediately, in order to give retailers time to transition to a new business model.

She added that alongside the policies in the action plan that will become law, practical support measures for smokers will also be prioritised.

“We know it’s really tough to break the habit and some people who smoke will understandably need lots of support leading up to these changes taking effect,” Verrall said.

According to the action plan, the restrictions would be rolled out in stages from 2024, beginning with the implementation of the retail reduction, followed in 2025 by the reduced nicotine requirements, before the formation of the “smoke-free” generation from 2027.