NZ wants to ban young people from ever being able to buy cigarettes

New Zealand plans to introduce laws that will mean today’s young people will go through their lives without ever being allowed to legally buy cigarettes.

People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will be banned from purchasing cigarettes, while the level of nicotine in cigarettes available to older people will be reduced.

The number of retailers allowed to sell cigarettes could also be dramatically cut.

The country of five million already requires plain packaging and has high taxes on cigarettes, but the government said more was needed.

New Zealand Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall said smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand, particularly prevalent in the Maori, Pacific, and low income communities.

She added: “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.

“While smoking rates are heading in the right direction, we need to do more, faster to reach our goal. If nothing changes, it would be decades till Maori smoking rates fall below 5%, and this government is not prepared to leave people behind.

“We’ve already seen the full impact of excise tax increases. The government recognises that going further will not help people quit, it will only further punish smokers who are struggling to kick the habit.”

The measures would make New Zealand’s tobacco laws among the world’s toughest, just behind Bhutan where cigarette sales are banned completely.

The legislation is expected to be introduced to parliament in June, with the aim of making it law by the end of next year with a transition period before it comes into effect.

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