A ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2008 will become law in New Zealand, after legislation passed Parliament yesterday.
The laws will ban a whole generation from legally purchasing cigarettes, which the NZ Government said “accelerates progress towards a smoke-free future”.
It will now go to the Governor-General to be signed into law.
Smoked tobacco products won’t be able to be sold to people born after 2008 under the new legislation. The number of retail stores selling tobacco products will also be reduced to a tenth of its current figure by the end of next year.
Supplying a banned product to a person born after 2008 will carry a fine of up to $AU142,000.
Why was it tabled?
The legislation is part of a national goal set in 2011 to make smokers less than 5% of the NZ population by 2025.
This was established after a landmark parliamentary inquiry into the country’s tobacco industry.
The smoking rate has decreased in recent years. Currently about 11% of the adult population smokes. Māori people have the highest smoking rates in NZ (22.3%), though this figure is also decreasing.
NZ Government comments
Associate Minister for Health, Dr Ayesha Verrall, said the legislation would facilitate healthier and longer lives in NZ, and strengthen the health system.
“By voting for this bill, we are saying we’re not prepared to let our people be sacrificed for vested interests, like the tobacco industry.”
The smoking ban was opposed by the National Party Opposition, who accused the Government of driving nicotine reduction “regardless of the collateral damage”.
Health spokesperson for the Nationals, Shane Reti, said his party supported reducing nicotine use, but disagreed with the steps proposed in the legislation to achieve this.
Reti took aim at the Government’s planned reduction of retail stores selling tobacco, saying this would make small businesses the “sacrificial lambs” of the scheme.
Will this happen in Australia?
When asked by TDA in July, Australian Health Minister Mark Butler said there were “no plans to introduce laws similar to New Zealand”.