New Zealand bans next generation from buying tobacco for life

New Zealand has passed a world first law banning the sale of tobacco to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009.

Along with the lifetime ban on sales to those born after 2008, The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill will see a reduction in the amount of nicotine allowed in smoked tobacco products, and a decrease in the number of retailers allowed to sell tobacco.

Dr Ayesha Verrall, Associate Health Minister, said this legislation accelerates progress towards a smokefree future.

“Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the health system will be $5billion better off from not needing to treat the illnesses caused by smoking, such as numerous types of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, amputations.”

Currently 6000 retailers sell tobacco products, the new legislation mandates a maximum of 600 tobacco retailers by the end of next year.

“Many retailers around the country have already opted to stop selling tobacco. Ngā Tai Ora Public Health Unit in Northland did a survey looking at 25 retailers who made the choice to end the sale of tobacco, of which 88 per cent experienced either a neutral or positive financial impact.”

New Zealand’s smoking rate has dropped to just 8 per cent, down from 9.4 per cent a year ago, and down from roughly 16 per cent ten years ago.

“These measures are important for equitable health for Māori. They will close the life expectancy gap for Māori women by 25 per cent and by 10 per cent for Māori men.”

Verall said the passing of the legislation is important on putting the nation on track for Smokefree 2025, but there is still more to do.

“The Government is firmly committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of those living in Aotearoa and this legislation is evidence of that commitment.”

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