In a bold move to curb the sale and consumption of tobacco that affects thousands each year, New Zealand has announced a cigarette purchase ban to every citizen in the year 2027 who is aged 14 and below. This ban will be applicable their entire life, stopping them from ever buying cigarettes, one of the leading causes of cancer due to the tobacco content and ease of accessibility. It kills nearly 5000 people every year, making cigarettes a part of the top causes of preventable death in the country.
New Zealand government backed their strong decision saying that other attempts to counter this problem were either taking loads of time or were inefficient.
As such, the Pacific country will debar those aged 14 and under to buy and consume cigarettes starting 2027, extending to the rest of their lives. The nation stressed on the young age as 4 in 5 people started smoking before they were 18 years old.
The rule, which was publicized on Thursday, will impact the 5 million population nation along with the authorized retailers who sell nicotine and tobacco as a part of their products. The curb now will bring down the number of these retailers as it also directs them to reduce the nicotine levels in every product sold.
Speaking about the government’s motive behind this ban, New Zealand Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall said, “We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we will make it an offense to sell or supply smoked tobacco products to new cohorts of youth.”
“If nothing changes, it would be decades till Maori smoking rates fall below 5%, and this government is not prepared to leave people behind,” she added.
As per the government statistics, 11.6% of citizens aged 15 and above smoke cigarettes. This figure goes up to 29% in indigenous Maori adults. However, a separate rule will come into the picture post consultation with Maori heath task force, which is expected to be introduced into the parliament as legislation in June 2022 and rolled out by the end of the same year.
These restrictions would start getting applied from 2024 with a big bang as a great number of retailers will lose their authority to sell tobacco and nicotine. The government hopes this to lead to reduced nicotine requirements by 2025 and a complete “smoke-free” generation by 2027 that will no longer smoke.
New Zealand becomes the second country to make such strong restrictions in the tobacco industry. Bhutan tops the list as it has a complete and inarguable ban on cigarettes. While plain packaging, which was first started by Australia in 2012, did make appreciable changes in the nation on the tobacco front, bolder moves were required to achieve the goal of less than 5% of citizens smoking daily by 2025.
In merely 20 years, the number of smokers in the country would go down by half of its current figure post the implementation of the new rules, the NZ government said.
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