New Zealand plans to ban young people from ever buying cigarettes in their lifetime in one of the world’s toughest crackdowns on the tobacco industry.
People aged 14 and under in 2027 will never be allowed to purchase cigarettes in the Pacific country of 5 million, part of proposals unveiled in December 2021 that will also curb the number of retailers authorized to sell tobacco and cut nicotine levels in all products.
“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,” New Zealand Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall said in a statement.
Currently, 11.6% of all New Zealanders aged 15 and older smoke, a proportion that rises to 29% among indigenous Maori adults, according to government figures. The government will consult with a Maori health task force in the coming months before introducing legislation into parliament in June, with the aim of making it law by the end of 2022.
The restrictions would then be rolled out in stages from 2024, beginning with a sharp reduction in the number of authorized sellers, followed by reduced-nicotine requirements in 2025.