On Dec. 13, the New Zealand government passed into law a new ban against smoking for the next generation of its people.
The lifetime ban aims to promote a healthier environment for the country and prevent the complications of illnesses as a result of smoking.
No to smoking
According to the new law, those born on or after Jan. 1, 2009, are no longer allowed to purchase tobacco, with the minimum age allowed planned to increase over time. The government hopes to make the country “smoke-free” by 2025.
Those who violate the law will be punished with fines of up to 150,000 New Zealand dollars (US $95,510), with the ban remaining for the rest of a person’s life.
“There is no good reason to allow a product to be sold that kills half the people that use it,” Associate Minister of Health Dr. Ayesha Verrall said as the law was passed. “And I can tell you that we will end this in the future, as we pass this legislation,” she added.
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The new law will join a series of other counteractive laws to combat smoking, including decreasing the legal amount of nicotine in tobacco products and restricting sales to specialty stores. The number of retailers allowed to sell tobacco will also be cut from 6,000 down to 600.
New Zealand had already taken a hard stance on cigarettes by restricting sales to those aged 18 and above and requiring tobacco packages to be standardized. Packages are also required to include graphic warnings.
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“Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the health system will be $5 billion better off not needing to treat the illnesses caused by smoking, such as numerous types of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, amputations,” Verrall said according to The Guardian.
The law was opposed by the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers (ACT) party, which argued that it would inspire a black market on tobacco products, and damage small businesses.
“We stand opposed to this bill because it’s a bad bill and its bad policy, it’s that straightforward and simple,” ACT Deputy Leader Brooke van Velden said.
“No one wants to see people smoke, but the reality is, some will and Labour’s nanny state prohibition is going to cause problems,” she added.
The law does not affect vaping, which has already outpaced smoking in New Zealand. It was reported last month that 8.3 percent of adults in the country vape daily; slightly above the eight percent of those who smoked daily.
The World Health Organization has reported that tobacco use kills more than eight million people each year, prompting a massive anti-smoking movement across the world, including advertising bans, plain packaging and higher taxes on tobacco products.