New Zealand government announces new law to ban smoking for life

The New Zealand health ministry announced a new law on Thursday last week that would place a lifetime ban on smoking for anyone 14 years or younger, starting next year.

Over time, according to the plan, the minimum age to buy cigarettes would increase year by year, and the number of daily smokers would decrease as fewer take up smoking to begin with. Eventually, anyone born after 2008 would not be allowed to purchase cigarettes.

The plan aims to bring smoking rates in New Zealand down by 2025. The current daily smoking rate in New Zealand is only 9%, but the health ministry believes it can reduce cigarette smoking in the country to under 5% by 2025 by utilizing the measures put forth in the plan.

The measures, aside from the youth smoking ban, include limiting the number of retailers that can sell cigarettes, and limiting the amount of nicotine allowed to be sold in any tobacco product to minimal amounts.

There has been some backlash to the announcement from small business owners whose stores sell cigarettes. “We all want a smoke-free New Zealand,” said business owner Sunny Kaushal,  “But this is going to hugely impact small businesses.” The ban would not affect vaping products, according to Associate Health Minister Dr. Ayesha Verrall, as the health ministry believes vaping is “a really appropriate quit tool.”

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