United Kingdom

New Zealand looks to introduce ban on smoking for Kiwis born after 2004

New Zealand is looking to stub out smoking by banning anyone born after 2004 from buying tobacco.

The move is part of a raft of proposals being considered by parliament in line with the country's goal to be smoke-free by 2025.

If the new laws are passed there will be a gradual increase in the age of legal smoking, filters on cigarettes will be banned, tobacco will not be permitted to be sold outside of specialist over-18 stores and the amount of nicotine in tobacco could be lowered.

New Zealand is looking to stub out smoking by banning anyone born after 2004 from buying tobacco. Pictured: Young racegoers in Christchurch 

Aotearoa, the Māori name for New Zealand, has a population of about five million people and it's estimated that about 500,000, or one in 10 smoke daily.

'About 4500 New Zealanders die every year from tobacco, and we need to make accelerated progress to be able to reach that goal (of being smoke free by 2025),' New Zealand Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said.

'Business as usual without a tobacco control program won't get us there, We need a new approach.

'These include proposals on reducing the access to tobacco through different retail outlets, as well as reducing the palatability of cigarettes by addressing the use of menthol crush-balls filters and filters themselves, and potentially creating a minimum price for cigarettes and tobacco as well.'

Dr Verrall says a 'smoke-free generation' could become a reality if the sale of tobacco is outlawed to people younger than 18 years old from 2022.

That would mean anyone born after 2004 would never be able to legally buy tobacco.

'It effectively could increase the age of access to tobacco by two years, five years, or so, to an age where taking up smoking is much less likely,' Dr Verrall said.

A 'smoke free generation' could become a reality if the sale of tobacco is outlawed to people younger than 18-years-old from 2022. Pictured: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand has a population of about five million people and it's estimated that about 500,000, or one in 10 smoke daily

But not everyone is in favour of the 'extreme move'.

Right-wing political party ACT said one of the restrictions being looked at - lowering the amount of nicotine in cigarettes - could end up costing working class smokers a fortune as they would need to buy more in order to get the same hit.

'New Zealand smokers who can least afford it will spend more on their habit and in turn do harm to those around them if the government mandates lower nicotine,' the ACT social development and children spokesperson, Karen Chhour, said in a statement.

'There's a strong argument too that this will drive up the trade of black market tobacco with high nicotine, driving those addicted to cigarettes to turn to crime to feed their habit.'

Right-wing political party ACT said one of the restrictions being looked at - lowering the amount of nicotine in cigarettes - could end up costing working class smokers a fortune as they would need to buy more in order to get the same hit (stock image)

Small independent retailers like convenience stores, corner shops and service stations have also raised concerns banning tobacco sales from their business will cause a tsunami of bankruptcies across the country.

The group hardest hit by the effects of smoking are New Zealand's Māori and Pasifika communities where cancer is the leading cause of death for Māori women and the second leading cause for Māori men.

Māori anti-smoking advocate Shane Kawenata Bradbrook said the new laws could help bring the 'final demise of tobacco products in this country'.

'For too long the tobacco industry has been addicting our people, fleecing them of their money before we have to bury them in urupa [burial grounds] all over this land,' he said.

'I am looking forward to truly making this a sunset industry in this corner of the world.'

Small independent retailers like convenience stores, corner shops and service stations have also raised concerts banning tobacco sales from their business will cause a tsunami of bankruptcies 

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