New Zealand Passes Lifetime Ban On Young People Buying Cigarettes  - Men's Health Magazine Australia

New Zealand Passes Lifetime Ban On Young People Buying Cigarettes 

New Zealand has passed a unique law to phase out tobacco smoking as it imposes a lifetime ban on young people buying cigarettes.

In what is being hailed as a landmark ruling when it comes to safeguarding public health, New Zealand has imposed a lifetime ban on young people buying cigarettes, with the law stating that tobacco can’t ever be sold to anybody born on or after January 1, 2009. As a result, the minimum age for buying cigarettes will continue to increase, basically meaning that somebody trying to buy a pack of cigarettes 50 years from now will need ID to show they were at least 63 years old. 

With the introduction of such a ruling, it’s hoped that the prevalence of smoking will continue to decline, as authorities look to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025. The new law also reduces the number of retailers allowed to sell tobacco from about 6,000 to 600, and decreases the amount of nicotine allowed in tobacco that is smoked. 

The legislation was voted on, winning out at 76 to 43. But as the libertarian ACT party, who opposed the bill, argued, they fear corner stores (known in New Zealand as dairies), will go out of business due to no longer being able to sell cigarettes. “We stand opposed to this bill because it’s a bad bill and it’s bad policy, it’s that straightforward,” said Brooke van Velden, ACT’s deputy leader. “There won’t be better outcomes for New Zealanders.”

As Associate Minister of Health, Dr Ayesha Verrall, explained to lawmakers, “There is no good reason to allow a product to be sold that kills half the people that use it. And I can tell you that we will end this in the future, as we pass this legislation.”

The impact of smoking on the health system can’t be underestimated, with smoking causing cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It also increases risk of tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis. As New Zealand looks to ban the selling of cigarettes for young people and introduce more measures to phase out smoking, it will save the health system billions of dollars from not needing to treat such illnesses. It’s not hard to see why many are celebrating the law as one that will create generational change and significantly increase the health of youth. 

The law does not affect vaping however, which remains a prevalent issue not only in New Zealand but around the world, particularly when it comes to young people. Statistics in New Zealand reported last month that 8 per cent of New Zealand adults smoked daily, which was down from 16 per cent 10 years ago, according to reports from PBS. The publication adds that 8.3 per cent of adults now vape daily, which is up from less than 1 per cent six years ago. 

As New Zealand looks to lead the charge on health reform and ensuring younger generations are given a healthier future, it remains to be seen whether other countries follow suit. Already, New Zealand restricts cigarette sales to those aged 18 and over, requires tobacco packs to come with graphic health warnings and cigarettes to be sold in standardised packs. 

By Jessica Campbell

Jess is a storyteller committed to sharing the human stories that lie at the heart of sport.

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