The New Zealand Government has announced a plan to ban smoking by 2025.
New legislation will mean people currently aged 14 and under will never be able to legally purchase tobacco.
The government also announced other measures to make smoking unaffordable and inaccessible. These include reducing the legal amount of nicotine in tobacco products to very low levels, cutting down the shops where cigarettes could legally be sold, and increasing funding to addiction services.
The law will see the legal smoking age increase every year. The plan is to create a smoke-free generation of New Zealanders, associate health minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said on Thursday.
“We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we will make it an offence to sell or supply smoked tobacco products to new cohorts of youth. People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco. This is a historic day for the health of our people,” she said.
The new laws will not restrict vape sales.
New Zealand smoking levels
New Zealand’s daily smoking rates have been dropping over time – down to 11.6% in 2018, from 18% a decade earlier. But smoking rates for Māori and Pacifika were far higher – 29% for Māori and 18% for Pasifika.
Smoking has already been widely replaced by vaping among teenage New Zealanders, and is also attracting many young people who would never have taken up smoking – according to surveying of 19,000 high school students this year, nearly 20% were vaping daily or several times a day, the majority with high nicotine doses. That’s compared to 3% of those aged 15-17 who smoked daily in 2018, or 13% who smoked a decade earlier.