New Zealand plans to phase out tobacco sales: a world first!
Steph Deschamps / December 9, 2021
New Zealand announced a plan Thursday to gradually raise the age at which tobacco can be purchased, a world first that aims in the long run to ban tobacco sales.
Currently, current regulations prohibit New Zealanders under the age of 18 from buying tobacco, and starting in 2027, that age limit will increase by one year each year, Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said.
We want to make sure that people never start smoking as they get older, they and future generations will never be able to legally purchase tobacco, she said. The minister said the government will also pass legislation to restrict the number of places that can sell tobacco and only allow products with low levels of nicotine to reduce the risk of addiction.
Verrall said the measures will ensure that New Zealand maintains its role as a world leader in tobacco control. In 1990, New Zealand banned tobacco industry sponsorship of sports and in 2004 banned smoking in bars. This is a historic day for the health of our people, she said.
Smoking, which causes one in four cancers, remains the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand.
The Minister noted that the health toll is particularly high in the Maori and Pacific communities, where smoking rates are about twice as high as the 13.5% for the rest of the population.