New Zealand bans young people from ever buying cigarettes


New Zealand will ban smoking outright over the next generation, according to a plan released Thursday.

According to multiple media reports, the aim to make the country smoke-free will raise the legal smoking age every year, effectively making anyone currently under age 14 from ever being legally able to smoke.

“This is a historic day for the health of our people,” said Dr. Ayesha Verrall, the country’s associate health minister.

“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,” she said Thursday.

The plan made public Thursday has other elements, all of which further one of the world’s most draconian and longstanding anti-tobacco campaigns.

The plan isn’t technically law yet, but the campaign, dubbed “Smokefree 2025” was a top priority of the Labor Party, which has an absolute majority in the Parliament. In parliamentary systems with tight party discipline, such as New Zealand’s, passage of party-backed legislation is considered a formality.

The government will restrict the number of stores allowed to sell cigarettes, providing just 500 tobacco-sales licenses nationwide, with the number to decrease in the future. It also orders nicotine limits to make smoking less addictive.

“New laws will mean only smoked tobacco products containing very low-levels of nicotine can be sold, with a significant reduction in the number of shops who can sell them,” Dr. Verrall said.

The retail regulations will not be implemented immediately, to give stores time to adjust, she said.

The target is to have 5% or less of the New Zealand population smoking by 2025.

“This action plan offers some hope of realizing our 2025 Smokefree goal,” said Dr. Alistair Humphrey, chairman of the New Zealand Medical Association.

Though the current plan has no tax increases, the country’s tobacco levy went up 10% every year between 2011 and 2020, to the point where a 20-pack of Marlboros, according to the Daily Mail Australia, costs $33NZ, or to $22.45 in American money.

This created a black market, the newspaper reported, and made stores selling tobacco into criminal targets.

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