why new zealand scrapped world’s first generational smoking ban
Wellington: In a big U-turn, New Zealand will revoke world-leading anti-smoking law, new Prime Minister Christopher Luxon confirmed after being sworn in on Monday. Christopher Luxon described the move as a “huge win for the tobacco industry”.
The “generational smoking ban” adopted last year stops sales of tobacco to anyone born after 2008.
On Saturday, the new finance minister, Nicola Willis, said the measures will be axed before March 2024, with the revenue from cigarette sales going towards the coalition’s tax cuts.
What Is New Zealand’s Anti-Smoking Ban?
In 2022, New Zealand passed the legislation which introduced a steadily rising smoking age to stop those born after January 2009 from ever being able to legally buy cigarettes. The law was designed to prevent thousands of smoking-related deaths and save the health system billions of dollars.
It contained several measures to make smoking less affordable and accessible. It included dramatically reducing the legal amount of nicotine in tobacco products, allowing their sale only through special tobacco stores. The number of stores was also slashed legally, allowing to sell cigarettes from 6,000 to just 600 nationwide.
However, as a component of its coalition pact with the populist party New Zealand First, the National party consented to revoke the changes. This involved actions such as eliminating the need for de-nicotinization, lifting restrictions on retail outlets, and canceling the prohibition on generation.
Why Is Christopher Luxon Revoking Smoking Ban?
Christopher Luxon said the tax revenue from ongoing cigarette sales would generate welcome income for the government. However, he also voiced concern that the ban would create a flourishing – and untaxed – black market.
The anti-smoking legislation was designed to reduce the number of people using tobacco products. While the number of adults smoking in New Zealand is relatively low at just 8%, the previous government had envisioned a future where the country was completely smoke-free.
Luxon stated the original ban would have created “an opportunity for a black market to emerge, which would be largely untaxed.” He later told Radio New Zealand that “concentrating the distribution of cigarettes in one store in one small town is going to be a massive magnet for crime.”
Health Experts Shocked
Public health experts have expressed shock at the policy reversal. They are of the opinion that it could cost up to 5,000 lives a year, and be particularly detrimental to Māori, who have higher smoking rates.
The move was criticised by anti-smoking groups as a step back for the country.
The anti-smoking group Health Coalition Aotearoa has expressed disappointment in the new coalition’s plans to repeal the smoking ban. “This is a major loss for public health, and a huge win for the tobacco industry—whose profits will be boosted at the expense of Kiwi lives,” Professor Lisa Te Morenga, the chair of Health Coalition Aotearoa, said in a statement.
The leading Māori public health organisation, Hāpai te Hauora, said the reversal will be “catastrophic for Māori communities”.’
“This move suggests a disregard for the voices of the communities most affected by tobacco harm – favouring economic interests,” chief executive Jason Alexander told Gaurdian.
New Zealand Gets New PM
Former airline boss Christopher Luxon took over six weeks after his conservative National Partywon national elections, ending a six-year Labour Party reign ushered in by Jacinda Ardern.
Luxon, 53, was sworn in as head of a new coalition government by New Zealand’s governor-general in a ceremony in the capital Wellington. “It is an honour and an awesome responsibility,” Luxon said. The conservative said he would prioritise taming inflation and bringing down interest rates.News Related