| 27 May 2024, Monday |

New Zealand to ban cigarette sales for future generations

In one of the world’s strongest crackdowns on the tobacco industry, New Zealand aims to prohibit young people from ever purchasing cigarettes in their lives, stating that previous measures to eliminate smoking were taking too long.

People aged 14 and younger will never be able to buy cigarettes in the Pacific island of 5 million in 2027, according to proposals announced on Thursday. The measures also limit the number of outlets authorized to sell tobacco and reduce nicotine levels in all products.

“We want to make sure that young people never start smoking, therefore we will make it a criminal to offer or distribute smoked tobacco products to new cohorts of adolescents,” stated Ayesha Verrall, Associate Minister of Health in New Zealand.

“If nothing changes, it will be decades before Maori smoking rates fall below 5%, and this administration is not willing to abandon people.”

According to official statistics, 11.6 percent of all New Zealanders over the age of 15 smoke, with indigenous Maori people smoking at a rate of 29 percent.

In the next months, the government will engage with a Maori health task group before putting legislation into parliament in June next year, with the goal of making it law by the end of 2022.

The limits would then be phased in beginning in 2024, with a steep fall in the number of authorized dealers, followed by lower nicotine requirements in 2025 and the development of a “smoke-free” generation beginning in 2027.

The changes would make New Zealand’s retail tobacco business one of the most restrictive in the world, trailing only Bhutan, where cigarette sales are completely prohibited. Australia, New Zealand’s neighbor, was the first country in the world to require plain packaging of cigarettes in 2012.

While current efforts like as plain packaging and sales taxes had decreased tobacco usage, the New Zealand government stated that stricter measures were required to accomplish its objective of fewer than 5% of the population smoking daily by 2025.


According to the administration, the new laws would reduce smoking rates throughout the country by half in as little as ten years.


The United Kingdom, like New Zealand, has established a goal of being smoke-free by 2030, while Canada and Sweden have set a goal of reducing smoking prevalence to less than 5% of their populations.

“All of these aggressive objectives are being adopted, but no country has yet to develop a comprehensive plan likely to accomplish a tobacco end-game. New Zealand might serve as a model for this “According to Jefferies analyst Owen Bennett.

He did not, however, anticipate the law to have an immediate impact on cigarette groups.

“In our opinion, it will be minor. New Zealand is a little market “He stated.

In New Zealand, smoking kills over 5,000 people every year, making it one of the leading causes of avoidable mortality. According to the country’s authorities, four out of every five smokers began before the age of 18.

Vaping, which is frequently regarded as a safer alternative to smoking and a valuable assistance in quitting, is similarly strictly controlled, with sales restricted to those over the age of 18.

The crackdown was hailed by health officials, while shops and tobacco corporations voiced worry about the impact on their operations and warned of the formation of a black market.

“We applaud the New Zealand government’s awareness that excessive excise rises disproportionately affect smokers on lower incomes,” said Imperial Brands (IMB.L), adding that it was worried about suggestions to cut nicotine levels.

“Cigarette smoking kills 14 New Zealanders every day, and two out of every three smokers will die as a result of smoking,” said Alistair Humphrey, chair of the New Zealand Medical Association, in a statement.

The Dairy and Business Owners Organization, a lobbying group for local convenience stores, however, stated that while it supports a smoke-free country, the government’s proposal will ruin many companies.

  • Reuters