New Zealand bans smoking for young people in bid to go 'smoke free'

9 December 2021, 07:34 | Updated: 4 January 2022, 12:32

Young people will not be allowed to buy cigarettes.
Young people will not be allowed to buy cigarettes. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

New Zealand has announced plans to ban smoking for young people in a bid to go "smoke free" for future generations.

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The country's government wants to introduce a law preventing anyone aged 14 and under from ever being able to buy tobacco.

It comes as ministers think current measures - like plain packaging - aren't enough to reach a target of cutting the smoking population to less than five per cent.

The Smokefree 2025 Action Plan was launched on Thursday morning, in what has been labelled a "historic day" for New Zealand.

Proposals in place will also see a reduction in the availability of tobacco products, with only those with low levels of nicotine expected to be widely available.

Support for those trying to kick the habit will also be stepped up as well, according to the health ministry.

Read more: E-cigarettes could be prescribed on NHS in world first to tackle smoking habits

Read more: Smokers up to six times more likely to die from Covid than non-smokers - study

Following the announcement, New Zealand's Health Minister, Dr Ayesha Verrall said: "We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we are legislating a smoke-free generation by making it an offence to sell or supply smoked tobacco products to those aged 14, when the law comes into effect.

"As they age, they and future generations will never be able to legally purchase tobacco, because the truth is there is no safe age to start smoking.

"We are also reducing the appeal, addictiveness and availability of smoked tobacco products. New laws will mean only smoked tobacco products containing very low levels of nicotine can be sold, with a significant reduction in the number of shops who can sell them."

Dr Verrall confirmed that the changes would not come into effect immediately, giving businesses time to adapt.

She added: "By going smoke-free, we could live in a country where our tamariki spend more quality years with their tupuna, we reduce the number of high-risk pregnancies, fewer people are in hospital with diseases and people have more money to spend on the things they need and enjoy."

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