On Thursday, New Zealand unveiled a plan to eventually ban all cigarette sales in the country, so that those who are ages 14 and under will never be able to legally buy tobacco.
Per The Guardian, the legal smoking age will increase every year to do this, said health minister Dr. Ayesha Verrall.
- “This is a historic day for the health of our people,” she said.
- The government will also use other measures to make tabacco unaffordable and inaccessible to reach the goal within the next four years.
- The legal amount of nicotine in tobacco products will also be lowered, though none of these restrictions will apply to vape sales.
- “We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we will make it an offence to sell or supply smoked tobacco products to new cohorts of youth. People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco,” Verrall said.
- The proposal is set to become law next year.
Doctors and health experts are in support of the reforms, per the BBC.
- “It will help people quit or switch to less harmful products, and make it much less likely that young people get addicted to nicotine,” said professor Janet Hook of the University of Otago.
Others warned that the changes could create a black market for tobacco, which the health ministry acknowledges, stating that “customs will need more resource to enforce border control,” the report added.
- “This is all 100% theory and 0% substance,” said Sunny Kaushal, chairman of the Dairy and Business Owners Group, a lobby group for local convenience stores, per the report. “There’s going to be a crime wave. Gangs and criminals will fill the gap.”