Aotearoa has pretty much banned the sale of cigarettes to the next generation. I say ‘pretty much’ because technically it’s not a law yet, but it only needs to be given ‘Royal Assent’ i.e. the governor general needs to sign it for it to become legit.
The ‘Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill’ (what a mouthful) passed its third reading earlier this week, six months after it was first introduced in June of this year.
When the law passes, it will be illegal for anyone born after 2008 to buy cigarettes or tobacco products. Eventually, this should phase out cigarette smokers altogether as the number of people who are able to buy cigarettes decreases every year.
Ayesha Verall, NZ’s Associate Health Minister, said the bill means slowly but surely we’ll be living in a smoke-free - and therefore healthier - country.
“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 said in a statement.
“The number of retailers around the country that can sell tobacco will be reduced to a tenth of the 6000 there are now. This legislation mandates a maximum of 600 tobacco retailers by the end of next year.”
“Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the health system will be NZ$5 billion better off from not needing to treat the illnesses caused by smoking,” she added.
Smokefree NZ aims for Aotearoa to be completely smoke-free by 2025, and it looks like we are trending in the right direction.
According to stats released by the government in November, only 8% of Kiwi adults smoke daily. Last year, that number was at 9.4% and a decade ago it was 16%.