New Zealand is making the toughest crackdown on the tobacco industry ever undertaken, which has people around the globe taking notice. Will other nations around the world take similar steps?
New Zealand bans young people from buying cigarettes, a complete ban by 2025
Reuters reported that New Zealand’s Health Ministry has lost patience with current efforts to extinguish smoking, arguing it is taking too long. This week, Health Minister Dr. Ayesha Verall announced plans for the country to undertake a sweeping crackdown on tobacco with a number of unprecedented steps, the BBC reported.
“This is a historic day for the health of our people,” Dr. Verrall said. “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. People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco.”
Youth will never be able to buy tobacco products
The first step is to prevent young people from acquiring the habit by enacting a law next year declaring anyone born after 2008 will not be able to buy tobacco products or cigarettes in their lifetime.
People ages 14 and under in 2027 will never be able to buy any tobacco-related products.
Further, New Zealand plans to require a reduction in nicotine levels and all products and reduce the number of retailers authorized to sell tobacco products, NBC reported.
The new rules and regulations are still being finalized, with legislation expected to be introduced in June, with the aim of becoming law before the end of 2022.
Smoke-free by 2025
A headline policy of New Zealand’s Labour Party has been ‘Smokefree 2025,’ the Guardian reports.
About 4,500 New Zealanders die every year from tobacco, and we need to make accelerated progress to be able to reach that goal [of Smokefree 2025],” Dr. Verral said last year, “Business-as-usual without a tobacco control program won’t get us there.”
But it isn’t only New Zealand.
Smoking deaths are a global problem
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that tobacco kills over 8 million each year, with 7 million of those a direct result of tobacco use. Around 1.2 million die each year from exposure to secondhand smoke.
Electronic cigarettes dangerous, especially for youth
The use of E-cigarettes and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENNDS) are particularly risky when used by children and adolescents, the WHO says, which can affect brain development and increase the risk of heart disease and lung disorders well as can damage the growing fetus in pregnant women.
Will the world follow New Zealand’s lead?
The question now is: Will the rest of the world follow New Zealand’s lead in cracking down on tobacco products and their ability to young people or even to all people?
Discrimination against low income people?
Critics of the plan in New Zealand argue that restricting the availability of tobacco products and reducing nicotine levels say it will only hurt low-income people the most. Those addicted to nicotine will simply purchase more cigarettes and smoke more to receive the same dose.
Fears of a black market for tobacco
Critics and government officials say that there is already a growing black market for tobacco.
“Evidence indicates that the amount of tobacco products being smuggled into New Zealand has increased substantially in recent years and organized criminal groups are involved in large-scale smuggling,” according to a statement by the government.
The above concerns would apply to all countries worldwide that might consider a tobacco ban.