New Zealand enacts world-first generational ban on tobacco
In a world first, the New Zealand government has passed laws that will permanently outlaw the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to anyone born after 2008, creating a "smokefree generation" that will never legally be able to buy tobacco.
The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill makes some major changes to New Zealand's tobacco legislation. Firstly, it comes into force at the beginning of 2023, and immediately restricts the nicotine content of all smoked tobacco products to a "non-addictive" level of 0.8 mg per gram of tobacco – about 20 times less than the "normal nicotine cigarettes" level of 15.8 mg/g described in this 2019 study.
Secondly, it gives regulators 12 months to eliminate 90% of the country's licensed tobacco retailers, leaving only 600 points of sale in the country by the end of 2023.
But most notably, it also creates a rolling age limit for smokers that will prevent anyone under the age of 14 on New Year's Day from ever being able to buy tobacco legally on NZ soil. Anyone who sells, delivers, or even arranges for the delivery of smoked tobacco products to this "smokefree generation" faces fines up to NZ$150,000 (US$96,700). Even giving a cigarette to somebody in this group in public becomes an offense with fines up to NZ$50,000 (US$32,200).
New Zealand's national smoking rate has already halved in the last 10 years, down to 8% – less than half of a global smoking rate around 22.3%. According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco is "one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced." It eventually kills up to half the people that use it, at a rate over 7 million people annually – and it kills another 1.2 million non-smokers a year, simply through exposure to second-hand smoke. Smoking rates have dropped in most high-income countries to the point where more than 80% of global smokers now live in low- and middle-income countries.
“This legislation accelerates progress towards a smokefree future,” said NZ Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall in a press statement. “Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the health system will be $5 billion better off from not needing to treat the illnesses caused by smoking, such as numerous types of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, amputations ... We’ve done well as a country to get to this point, but there is more to do."
Source: New Zealand Government