New Zealand May Ban Tobacco
New Zealand is aiming to become smoke-free by 2025, by phasing out the legal sale of cigarettes. The current considerations include raising the legal age by which people can buy cigarettes. The move, if approved, would also prohibit the sale of any tobacco product, including cigars.
A Tobacco-Free Generation
As well as the major plans to ban the sale of tobacco, other motions have been suggested. Included in the plans are motions to reduce the amount of nicotine legally allowed within the products. As well as this, there are further suggestions including the removal of filters, restrictions on the number of locations the tobacco could be sold from and raising the minimum cost of tobacco. At the time of the announcement, Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said “About 4,500 New Zealanders die every year from tobacco, and we need to make accelerated progress” adding that “Business-as-usual without a tobacco control program won’t get us there.”
Similar restrictions have previously been announced and implented across the UK, though the measures announced by New Zealand make for a more ambitious programme.
How Will New Zealand Ban Tobacco?
The series of plans, which will be debated and potentially enshrined in law over the coming months, would see ensure that those born after 2004 would be unable to ever buy tobacco products. In government documents released this week, the government state: “A smoke-free generation policy would prohibit the sale, and the supply in a public place, of smoked tobacco products to new cohorts from a specified date”. This could mean that the ministers in charge of plans could potentially create a smoke-free generation by 2025.
The move has been welcomed by public health organisations, especially as the data-driven plans can help to address health inequalities. Lucy Elwood, chief executive of Cancer Society of New Zealand, pointed out that tobacco retailers were four times more prevalent in low-income areas. These retailers correspond to the high number of smokers in these areas. Thus, in making these changes, it is hoped that restricted access to tobacco can help to improve the number of smokers.
There has been some criticism, however, surrounding the move. In particular, there may be some additional consequences, which can affect small business owners. According to one such owner, Jessica Lee, many tobacco shoppers head to their local dairy in order to pick up their cigarettes and purchase other goods along the way. “Most of the people coming to the dairy are after tobacco products, or just milk and bread. It is a very difficult situation for us,” Lee said.
New Zealand Considering Cigarette Ban
As well as helping to reduce health inequalities for those in low-income areas, the ban may help the indiginous communities. Shane Kawenata Bradbrook, an advocate for cutting smoking among the Maori people, said that the plan “will begin the final demise of tobacco products in this country”. Given how statistics show that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the Maori, the move will hopefully prove to ensure a healthier, happier lifestyle in both populations.