Friday, January 27, 2023

New Zealand implements permanent ban on youth tobacco

WELLINGTON, New Zealand ( Associated Press) – New Zealand passed legislation Tuesday in an unusual strategy to phase out tobacco by imposing a permanent ban on youth buying cigarettes.

The law states that tobacco may never be sold to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009.

This means that the minimum age to buy cigarettes will increase every year. In theory, someone trying to buy a pack of cigarettes 50 years from now would have to show ID that’s at least 63 years old.

But health officials are confident that consumption will disappear very soon. Their stated goal is to make New Zealand tobacco-free by 2025.

The new law reduces the number of vendors authorized to sell tobacco from about 6,000 to 600, and reduces the amount of nicotine allowed in smokeless tobacco.

“There is no good reason to allow the sale of a product that kills half the people who consume it,” Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Veral told MPs in Parliament. “And I can tell you that we will end this in the future by passing this law.”

The health system, he said, would save billions of dollars by not treating diseases caused by smoking, such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes and amputations. He said that this law will bring a generational change and leave a legacy of better health for the youth.

MPs stuck to their party line by approving the rule by 76 votes in favor and 43 against.

The Libertarian Act Party, which opposed the measure, said that many neighborhood businesses would go out of business because they could no longer sell cigarettes.

“We oppose this bill because it’s a bad bill and it’s bad policy, it’s that plain and simple,” said Brooke Van Velden, ACT number two. “There will be no benefit to New Zealanders.”

The MP dismissed the rule as a “nanny state ban” and said it would create a huge black market. He said that prohibition never worked and always ended with unintended consequences.

The law does not cover vaping, which is already more popular in New Zealand than tobacco smoking.

The New Zealand Statistics Agency said last month that eight per cent of New Zealand adults smoke daily, down from 16 per cent ten years ago. For their part, 8.3% used e-cigarettes daily, compared to less than 1% six years earlier.

Smoking rates remain highest among indigenous Māori, with approximately 20% of respondents smoking.

New Zealand already restricts the sale of cigarettes to people over the age of 18, requires clear health warnings on packages and requires cigarettes to be sold in standard wrappers.

In recent years, the country has also significantly increased cigarette taxes.

The rule was welcomed by many health agencies. The Aotearoa Health Coalition said the new law limited decades of hard work by health and community organizations to activism.

Nation World News Desk
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