New Zealand aims to be entirely smoke-free by 2025 and to reach this goal, it has announced several proposals including making smoking illegal for anyone born after 2004, The Guardian reported.
Among the proposals are gradually increasing the legal smoking age and banning the sale of cigarette and tobacco products to anyone born after 2004. Reducing the amount of nicotine allowed in tobacco products, banning filters, and setting a minimum price for tobacco have also been under consideration.
Dr. Ayesha Varrall, New Zealand’s associate health minister, said on Thursday, “We need a new approach. About 4,500 New Zealanders die every year from tobacco, and we need to make accelerated progress to be able to reach that goal [of Smokefree 2025]. Business-as-usual without a tobacco control program won’t get us there.”
Several public health organizations support the new measures. Lucy Elwood, chief executive of the Cancer Society, said in a statement, “This proposal goes beyond assisting people to quit. […] Tobacco is the most harmful consumer product in history and needs to be phased out.”
There are, however, some critics of the proposed laws. Many worry about the negative economic impact on small businesses that sell cigarettes and the potential for a tobacco black market.
Smoking accounts for one in four cancer deaths in New Zealand.