New Zealand is considering phasing out the legal sale of tobacco with a date-based ban on smoking products. It has announced a suite of proposals aimed at outlawing smoking for the next generation.
New Zealand is looking to ban smoking for anyone born after 2004 in a bid to make the country smoke-free by 2025. The move is part of a raft of proposals being considered by lawmakers.
They include a reduction in the level of nicotine allowed in tobacco products, prohibiting filters, setting a minimum price for tobacco, and restricting the locations where tobacco and cigarettes can be sold.
Lawmakers are also mulling plans to gradually increase the legal age at which people can buy tobacco products.
“We need a new approach,” Associate Health Minister Dr. Ayesha Verrall said on Thursday, announcing the changes. “About 4,500 New Zealanders die every year from tobacco, and we need to make accelerated progress to be able to reach that goal [of Smokefree 2025]. Business-as-usual without a tobacco control program won’t get us there.”
The proposals were welcomed by a number of public health organizations. “This proposal goes beyond assisting people to quit,” Cancer Society chief executive Lucy Elwood said in a statement. She noted that the number of tobacco retailers was four times higher in low-income communities, where smoking rates were highest.
“These glaring inequities are why we need to protect future generations from the harms of tobacco,” Elwood said. “Tobacco is the most harmful consumer product in history and needs to be phased out.”
However, they have been criticized by right-wing political party ACT, who said one of the restrictions being looked at - lowering the amount of nicotine in cigarettes - could end up negatively affecting working-class smokers as they would need to buy more cigarettes in order to get the same hit.
“New Zealand smokers who can least afford it will spend more on their habit and in turn do harm to those around them if the government mandates lower nicotine,” the ACT’s social development and children spokesperson, Karen Chhour, said in a statement.
Convenience stores, corner shops, and service stations have also shared concerns over banning tobacco sales from their businesses.
The country has a population of about five million people. While it’s estimated that about 500,000, or one in 10 smoke daily, smoking rates are highest among Māori and Pasifika inhabitants, Mr. Bradbrook said.
“For too long the tobacco industry has been addicting our people, fleecing them of their money before we have to bury them in urupa [burial grounds] all over this land,” he added.
“I am looking forward to truly making this a sunset industry in this corner of the world.”
Article Source: Unilad