February 28, 2024

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New Zealand scraps pioneering move to ban tobacco for people born after 2009

New Zealand scraps pioneering move to ban tobacco for people born after 2009

The new New Zealand government has announced that it will repeal the anti-smoking law passed in 2022 and establish that people born in 2009 cannot buy tobacco in the country.

Last Saturday, new finance minister Nicola Willis said the measures would be scrapped by March 2024 and revenue from cigarette sales would go towards coalition tax cuts. Health associations have criticized plans to replace the ambitious law, which would have phased out tobacco sales. From 2027 onwards.

“Our communities have unequivocally spoken out against the control that tobacco companies have over their well-being and the future of their families. This move ignores these community voices in order to raise revenue to pay tax cuts to New Zealand’s richest,” condemned Maori health association ‘Habai Te Haura’.

“Disproportionate” blow to health

The group describes it as “a disproportionate blow to the health and well-being of all New Zealanders”, highlighting that Indigenous peoples have the highest rates of smoking and related diseases, it points out in a report.

In December 2022, the Labor government, which had lost power in the October elections, was able to approve a provision establishing that those born on or after January 1, 2009 –and those who turn 18 in 2027– You can never legally buy tobacco in New Zealand.

The legislation was passed despite opposition from the National Party and the liberal right-wing Consumers and Taxpayers Association (ACT), then in opposition. However, after recent elections, the Nationals – who won the referendum – formed a three-way coalition with ACT and the nationalist New Zealand First Party to form a government.

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“The idea that tax cuts are going to be paid for by people who continue to smoke is absolutely shocking,” Smoke-Free New Zealand president Robert Beaglehole told the Pacific Media Network.

By 2022, the Ministry of Health predicts that the anti-smoking policy will help save 5 billion New Zealand dollars (about 3,042 million dollars or 2,2778 million euros) in different types of treatment over the next 20 years. Cancer, heart attack and disability are linked to tobacco.