May 20, 2024

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New Zealand is the first country to ban smoking for people born after 2009… Why did they back down?

New Zealand is the first country to ban smoking for people born after 2009… Why did they back down?

The United Kingdom on Tuesday gave the green light to a bill on tobacco and vaporizers that would criminalize the sale of these products to anyone born after 2009. This means that children who are currently 15 years old will never be able to buy tobacco

However, although the law is due to take effect in April 2025, it will not penalize tobacco or prevent anyone who can legally buy tobacco today from doing so in the future.

With this ban, the United Kingdom marks a milestone in the country, but not in the world. New Zealand was the first region to adopt a smoke-free generation. However, 12 months after approving their predecessor's anti-smoking law, they backtracked. What is this for?

In December 2022, the New Zealand Parliament approved legislation banning smoking for all citizens born on or after January 1, 2009, as part of a package of reforms aimed at becoming a smoke-free country by 2025. Nicotine levels in tobacco products and lower points of sale, specifically reduced from 6,000 to 600. The ban is for life, and non-compliance carries a fine of up to 150,000 New Zealand dollars (about 92,000 euros). However, a year later everything changed.

New government, new interests

In November 2023, following a change of government, Finance Minister Nicola Willis said the measures would be removed in March 2024, with the aim of using revenue from tobacco sales to fund tax cuts. During its election campaign, the country's new government announced a historic tax cut and to do something like this you have to raise money somehow. The decision was obvious to the right-wing coalition currently in power in New Zealand, as the tobacco industry is very profitable for the state.

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Health experts quickly spoke out, explaining that the plan was going to cost thousands of lives. “The idea that tax cuts will be paid for by people who smoke regularly is absolutely shocking,” Smoke-Free New Zealand president Robert Beaglehole told the Pacific Media Network.