New Zealand’s parliament enacted legislation last week that prohibits anyone born after 2008 from purchasing cigarettes or tobacco products.
It will mean that the number of people who can buy cigarettes will decrease year after year. For example, by 2050, 40-year-olds will be too young to purchase cigarettes.
The law, introduced by Health Minister Ayesha Verrall, is a step “towards a smoke-free future” she said.
“Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the health system will be NZ$5 billion (US$3.2 billion) better off from not needing to treat the illnesses caused by smoking,” Dr. Verrall stated.
According to government data released in November, only 8 percent of adults in New Zealand smoke daily, a decrease from 9.4 percent the previous year.
The Smokefree Environments Bill
The bill also aims to cut nicotine levels in products to make them less addictive by limiting the number of stores that can sell smoked tobacco products to 600 countrywide, down from 6,000 now.
“It means nicotine will be reduced to non-addictive levels and communities will be free from the proliferation and clustering of retailers who target and sell tobacco products in certain areas,” Dr. Verrall explained.
She went on to say that the legislation could reduce the gap in life expectancy between Maori and non-Maori individuals. The overall smoking percentage among Maori citizens is 19.9 percent, down from 22.3 percent last year.
The new legislation does not prohibit the use of vape goods, which have grown in popularity among younger generations significantly more than cigarettes.
Critics of the law, like the ACT party, which has 10 seats in parliament, have warned that it will fuel an underground market in tobacco products and kill off small businesses.