New Zealand to ban cigarettes for future generations

In huge public health news, New Zealand’s government has announced that anyone born after 2008 will not be able to buy cigarettes or tobacco products in their future lifetime, under a law expected to be enacted next year. 🤐 That covers people under 15  and would raise the smoking age year by year until it covers the entire population. The country aims to reduce its national smoking rate to 5% by 2025 and eventually eradicate it.

New Zealand’s daily smoking rates have been dropping over time – down to 11.6% in 2018, from 18% a decade earlier, The Guardian reported. But there is a racial difference: smoking rates for Māori and Pasifika were far higher than among their fellow citizens of European descent – 29% for Māori and 18% for Pasifika.

The government has now introduced major tobacco controls, including limiting where cigarettes can be sold and reducing stores to under 500 from about 8,000. 

The World Health Organisation estimates that a billion people will die of smoking-related causes this century but banning tobacco sales, despite the clear public health benefits, has been a virtual nonstarter globally; arguments against it often centre on civil liberties and fears of increased smuggling, the New York Times reported. New Zealand’s government acknowledged warnings about the black market for tobacco – which currently makes up at least 10% of tobacco sales in the country, saying “customs will need more resources to enforce border control”.

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 15 December 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.