In New Zealand, the government wants to introduce a law to prevent new generations from starting to smoke cigarettes: it wants to ban all people born after 2008 from buying products containing tobacco, for life. The bill has yet to pass through Parliament, but it should be passed without complications, as the ruling Labor Party has a majority.
The law was announced Thursday by New Zealand health minister Ayesha Verrall, who said smoking is the leading preventable cause of death. Verrall added: “We want to make sure young people never start smoking, so we’ve made it a crime to sell or supply them with tobacco products. People who are 14 when the law comes into force will never be able to buy them legally. “
The law also provides for a lowering of the quantity of nicotine present in cigarettes and a decrease in the number of businesses that can sell them: now there are 8 thousand throughout the country, they will become less than 500. In supermarkets, for example, they will no longer be able to buy.
Today it is estimated that around 13 percent of New Zealand adults smoke, 5 percent less than ten years ago. The government aims to lower this percentage to 5 percent by 2025, and then to zero. However, the percentage of people who smoke is higher among the Maori: 31 percent.
Some New Zealand parties are critical of the new law.
ACT, the right-wing liberal party, has particularly contested the lowering of the nicotine level in cigarettes, because it believes it will harm people with lower incomes, as they will have to buy more cigarettes for the same dose of nicotine. Verrall countered by citing studies that lower nicotine levels help people quit smoking. There are also those who hypothesized that the new law will favor a black market for cigarettes, which according to an analysis of the government has grown in recent years due to the action of organized crime.