New Zealand has announced it will outlaw smoking for the next generation, so that those who are aged 14 and under today will never be legally able to buy tobacco.
New legislation means the legal smoking age will increase every year, to create a smoke-free generation of New Zealanders, associate health minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said on Thursday.
“This is a historic day for the health of our people,” she said.
The government announced the rising age alongside other measures to make smoking unaffordable and inaccessible, to try to reach its goal of making the country entirely smoke-free within the next four years. Other measures 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 new laws will not restrict vape sales.
“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,” Verrall said.
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. “If nothing changes, it would be decades till Māori smoking rates fall below 5%,” Verrall said. She said eradicating smoking in the next four years was within reach: “I believe it is. The issue is, though, if we don’t change what we’re doing, we won’t make it for Maori – and that’s [what] the plan is really focused on”.从2011年的18%到2018年的11.6%，新西兰的每日吸烟率一直在下降。但毛利人和岛民的吸烟率要高得多，分别为29%和18%。韦拉尔说：“如果不做任何改变，将毛利人的吸烟率下降至5%以下将需要几十年的时间。”她说，在未来四年内全面无烟是可以实现的，“我相信我们可以做到。不过，问题是，如果我们不做出改变，就无法让毛利人实现这一目标——而这正是该法案真正关注的。”
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.
Verrall said the legislation would be introduced in 2022, with the age limits coming in in 2023.