Smoke-free nation: New Zealand proposes smoking ban for people born after 2004

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No smoking sign (Getty Images)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (WJW) — New Zealand is looking to ban smoking for anyone born after 2004 in an effort to make the nation smoke-free by 2025.

Earlier this week Associate Minister of Health Dr. Ayesha Verrall announced the proposed measure, which would gradually increase the legal smoking age over time.

The measure reads in part:

A smoke-free generation policy would prohibit the sale, and the supply in a public place, of smoked tobacco products to new cohorts from a specified date. For example, if legislation commenced on 1 January 2022, then people younger than 18 years at that time or those born after 1 January 2004 would never be able to lawfully be sold smoked tobacco products. This option would grandfather existing smokers, but the supply of new smokers would cease. This would effectively phase out the legal sale of smoked tobacco products over many years.

Proposals for a Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan

New Zealand lawmakers are looking to reduce the level of nicotine allowed in tobacco products, prohibit filters, set a minimum price for tobacco, and restrict locations where tobacco and cigarettes can be sold

Dr. Verrall says a “new approach” is needed if the nation wants to reach its goal. She adds that the “best way” to achieve a “smoke-free future” is to prevent people from ever starting to smoke.

“Over 75 percent of smokers have tried to quit but smoking is primarily driven by addiction. This makes quitting extremely difficult even though most smokers want to do so,” explained Dr. Verrall.

In addition to trying to prevent citizens from ever smoking, the proposed action plan also aims to:

  1. Eliminate inequities in smoking rates and smoking-related illnesses
  2. Increase the number of children and young people who remain smokefree
  3. Increase the number of people who successfully quit smoking

“Almost half a million New Zealanders smoke daily. If we are to reach our goal, many more need to quit or switch to less harmful alternatives. I acknowledge how addictive nicotine is and how tough it is to quit smoking. We must provide people with better support in their decisions to stop smoking and in their quit journeys,” Dr. Verrall said.

Read the proposed measure in its entirety, below:

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