In an effort to create a smoke-free future, New Zealand Lawmakers have banned Kiwis born after 2009 from purchasing cigarettes even as they grow older.
The law, promoted by the New Zealand Labour Party, will also restrict who can sell tobacco within the country by 90%. As a result, only 600 outlets can sell tobacco products to young customers.
New Zealand government statistics state that as of 2021, only 8% of the population are daily smokers. This represents a 1.4% decrease from the year before. The statistics also show that those living below the poverty line are four times as likely to smoke regularly.
“There is no good reason to allow a product to be sold that kills half the people that use it,” argued Dr. Ayesha Verrall, the New Zealand Associate Minister of Health. “And I can tell you that we will end this in the future as we pass legislation.”
Verrall hopes that New Zealand will be smoke-free by 2025. Furthermore, she believes the health system will save billions from the new policy by mitigating the long-term effects of smoking such as cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. Smoking is also associated with obesity, which has been increasing at an alarming rate in the United States, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
The bill passed along party lines with a vote of 76 to 43. Opposed to the bill was ACT — a right-wing libertarian and classical-liberal party — which pointed out that corner stores would inevitably suffer due to the new law.
Brooke van Velden, the ACT deputy leader, called the bill a “nanny-state prohibition” that will create a black market for tobacco products rather than discourage its use.
“We stand opposed to this bill because it’s a bad bill and it’s bad policy. It’s that straightforward and simple,” she said.
The new law further represents a larger trend as the country cracks down on the smoking population. In recent years, the New Zealand government has levied heavy taxes on cigarettes. Today, a pack of cigarettes in New Zealand costs about $22.50.