New Zealand bans future generations from buying tobacco under new law

Descendants of New Zealanders will be banned from buying tobacco as part of a new package of anti-smoking laws passed by parliament on Tuesday, one of the strictest in the world.

The new set of laws includes a ban on the sale of tobacco to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009, punishable by fines of up to NZ$150,000 (US$95,910). The ban will last a person’s lifetime.

The legislation would also reduce the amount of nicotine allowed in smoking tobacco products and reduce the number of retailers able to sell tobacco by 90%.

“This legislation accelerates progress towards a smoke-free future,” Dr. Ayesha Verrall, deputy health minister, said in a statement.

“Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and health systems will save $5 billion by not having to treat diseases caused by smoking, such as many types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, amputations.”

The number of retailers licensed to sell tobacco will drop from 6,000 to 600 by the end of 2023.

New Zealand, which has one of the lowest rates of adult smoking among the 38 OECD countries, is tightening anti-smoking laws further as part of the government’s push to make the country “smoke-free” by 2025.

Only Bhutan, which banned the sale of cigarettes in 2010, will enact stricter anti-smoking laws.

The number of adult Kiwis smoking has halved over the past decade to 8 per cent, with 56,000 quitting last year. According to the OECD, 25% of French adults will smoke in 2021.

Verrall said the legislation would help close the gap in life expectancy between Māori and non-Māori citizens, which could be as high as 25 per cent for women.

ACT New Zealand, which has 10 of the 120 seats in parliament, condemned the law, saying it would kill small shops and force people into the black market.

“Nobody wants to see people smoking, but the reality is, some people do. Labour’s nanny state ban will cause problems,” deputy leader Brooke van Felden said.

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