New Zealand is set to be smoke-free with the government announcing their Smokefree 2025 plan on Thursday, which involves the bold move to ban the sale of tobacco to anyone born after 2011.
In addition to introducing an age limit, the ambitious plan will also reduce the number of retailers selling cigarettes in a plan to stop young people from taking up the habit.
When legislation kicks in from 2025, it will be an offence to sell or supply smoked tobacco products to anyone aged 14 or under.
The plans were announced in parliament on Thursday by associate health minister Ayesha Verrall.
“Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand and causes one in four cancers,” Dr Ayesha Verrall explained.
“We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we will make it an offence to sell or supply smoke tobacco products to new cohorts of young people.
“People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco.”
Government 'not prepared to leave people behind'
Dr Verrall continued saying that on average, non-Maori live on average eight years longer than Maori New Zealanders, attributing the difference to smoking.
31 per cent of Maori New Zealanders smoke, compared to 13 per cent of non-Maori New Zealanders.
"We want to make sure young people never start smoking ... if nothing changes it would be decades till Maori smoking rates fall below five per cent, and this government is not prepared to leave people behind," she said.
However, a spokeswoman from the right-wing minor party ACT Karen Chhour slammed the plan, saying "prohibition has never worked".
"We will end up with a black market for tobacco, with no standards or regulation, and people will be harmed," Ms Chhour said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave a stark statistic in regards to why the plan was so important.
"Half of those who take up smoking die from its effects," she said on Thursday.
Will Australia adopt the same laws?
Last month, the Medical Journal of Australia released a paper calling to ban cigarettes in Australian supermarkets.
A research paper published in the Medical Journal of Australia in November called for the sale of cigarettes to be phased out in Australia.
“Despite tobacco’s legal status, it fails to meet consumer safety standards,” the authors wrote.
“Consumer and drug regulatory systems would prohibit the sale of cigarettes as a new consumer product today.
“Governments should set target end dates for tobacco sales and support retailers to transition to a smoke‐free society.”
A separate piece published in the Medical Journal of Australia by researchers from the University of Queensland said anti-smoking measures such as plain-packaging laws and health warnings were no longer enough, calling for the government to limit supply.
However, a ban on smoking is not looking likely to happen in Australia anytime soon.
“The idea of age cutoffs for consumers has been considered by Australian governments in the past (most recently in Tasmania) and is viewed as unworkable," a spokesperson from the British American Tobacco Australia, told Yahoo News Australia.
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