New Zealand’s world first laws effectively ban smoking in the future

New Zealand has banned the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2008, prompting Australian anti-smoking advocates to renew their calls for Australia to follow suit.

The New Zealand Parliament passed the laws late on Tuesday. It will be illegal for anyone born on or after January 1, 2009, to buy cigarettes.

The new laws will also cut the nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels, however, e-cigarettes are still allowed.

“Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the health system will be $5 billion ($4.7 billion) better off from not needing to treat the illnesses caused by smoking,” New Zealand’s Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern applauded the laws, and said she hoped the country was proud of the steps being taken.

She said the suite of laws, believed to be a world first, was “hugely innovative” and the health minister and anti-smoking advocates could get the “real credit”.

The laws also mean the number of retailers that can sell cigarettes will drop from 6000 to 600 by the end of next year.

The Opposition’s health spokesman She Reti warned local businesses that sold cigarettes would be devastated, as they relied heavily on selling them.

However, Dr Verrall said many retailers had already opted to stop selling tobacco.

Research shows positive impact

Dr Verrall also said a public health survey found that out of 25 retailers who have already decided to stop selling tobacco, 88 per cent of them reported a neutral or positive financial impact after their decision.

Just 8 per cent of adults in the country smoke daily, the New Zealand government said in a statement, which is down from 9.4 per cent a year ago.

“These measures are important for equitable health for Māori. They will close the life expectancy gap for Māori women by 25 per cent and by 10 per cent for Māori men,” Dr Verall said.

Close Up Of Teenager Boy Offering Girl Cigarette

New Zealand will also limit the amount of nicotine in cigarettes so they are not addictive.

Should Australia follow New Zealand’s lead?

Australia was the first country in the world to bring in plain packaging for cigarettes.

New Zealand’s Smokefree 2025 Action Plan was launched last year and, at the time, Australian advocates praised the plan.

Associate Professor Coral Gartner from NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence on Achieving the Tobacco Endgame at the University of Queensland told The New Daily last year the move was going to be a “real game changer”.

“This is going to really reduce the number of young people who experiment with smoking and then become addicted to it,” she said.

“It’s also going to assist people who currently smoke to stop smoking.”

On Wednesday, Dr Gartner told The New Daily the raft of laws from New Zealand were “monumental”.

“This really puts New Zealand as a world leader in tobacco control policy,” she said.

“This package of laws, which is also supported by a larger range of policies, really does start addressing some of the fundamental reasons why people take up smoking and why they become addicted to smoking, and why they find it difficult to quit.”

Not only does Dr Gartner think these laws will have a huge impact in New Zealand, but she also thinks it will mark the next generation of tobacco control policies.

She hopes Australia will adopt something like New Zealand’s laws.

“If you’re just doing something like putting out messages to people that you should stop smoking because of the health risk, that person still needs to have a lot of capacity to make that quit attempt,” Dr Gartner said.

“Whereas if you take the addictive element out of the cigarettes, that’s helping those people who maybe have less capacity to quit smoking on their own.”

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