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A new law in New Zealand banned the sale of tobacco to those born after 2008

After 2008, New Zealand intends to raise the legal smoking age by one year every year, thereby prohibiting the sale of tobacco to anybody born after that year.

Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said in Wellington that the government will present new legislation next year that will gradually raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 by 2027. From 2024, the new rule would limit the number of shops that can sell tobacco, and from 2025, only smoked tobacco products with very low amounts of nicotine will be available.

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,” Verrall said. “People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco.

The government’s drive to reduce the prevalence of smoking in New Zealand to less than 5% in all population categories by 2025 includes the creation of a smoke-free generation. According to officials, smoking kills up to 5,000 individuals per year, accounting for 15% of all deaths.

While smoking prevalence among New Zealand’s European population has decreased to 10%, it remains at 28% among Maori and 18% among Pacific people.

Professor of Public Health at the University of Auckland, Chris Bullen, said the government’s proposal is world-leading and potentially game-changing, particularly the initiative to allow only extremely low nicotine levels in cigarettes.

If carried out as planned, the reforms “could just be the single most significant step we take as a nation to reducing preventable death and disease and reducing health inequities in the next few years,” he said.

In the past, the government raised tobacco excise taxes, raising the cost of smoking in an attempt to discourage the practice. However, the program was criticized since it increased costs for low-income families, who are more likely to smoke.

We’ve already seen the full impact of excise tax increases, Verrall said. The government recognizes that going further will not help people quit, it will only further punish smokers who are struggling to kick the habit.

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