The Kiwis are going smoke-free.
New Zealand passed legislation on Tuesday banning the sale of cigarettes for future generations.
Under the new law, New Zealanders born after Jan. 1, 2009 will be barred from ever purchasing tobacco products.
The unique plan to eradicate smoking from the Pacific Island nation would then gradually raise the minimum age a person could legally buy tobacco every year — meaning that in 50 years, a person would have to be 63 years old to buy a pack of cigarettes.
New Zealand health officials, however, hope to see an end of tobacco use by 2025. The new law drastically reduces the number of retailers permitted to sell the addictive plant from 6,000 to 600. The amount of nicotine allowed in smoking tobacco will also be reduced.
The law does not affect vaping, which has already surpassed smoking in the country.
Health Minister Dr. Ayesha Verrall, who introduced the bill, called the legislation a step “towards a smoke-free future,” the BBC reported.
“Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the health system will be NZ$5 billion [$3.2 billion USD] better off from not needing to treat the illnesses caused by smoking,” she said.
Smoking rates in New Zealand are already at historic lows, with only about 8% of adults reporting that they smoked daily — a 16% dropoff from a decade ago. However, 8.3% of adults reported vaping daily up from under 1% just six years ago.
New Zealand’s indigenous Maori population reported much higher levels of smoking, with around 20% saying they smoked tobacco daily.
The age to purchase tobacco is already restricted to those over the age of 18, and graphic warning labels are placed on packs of cigarettes.
Cigarette sales in the country are already restricted to those 18 and up.
The law passed in New Zealand Parliament along party lines 76-43.
The country’s libertarian ACT party opposed the bill, claiming it would negatively impact small corner stores throughout the country, even putting them out of business.
Brooke van Velden, ACT’s deputy leader, blasted the bill as “nanny-state prohibition” that would result in a black market.
“We stand opposed to this bill because it’s a bad bill and its bad policy, its that straightforward and simple,” she said. “There won’t be better outcomes for New Zealanders.”
With Post wires
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