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Wednesday February 21, 2024

New Zealand to scrap world-leading anti-smoking laws

By AFP
November 28, 2023

WELLINGTON: New Zealand´s plans for world-leading anti-smoking laws will be revoked, Christopher Luxon confirmed on Monday after being sworn in as prime minister, in a move described as a “huge win for the tobacco industry”.

Former airline boss Luxon took over six weeks after his conservative National Party won national elections, ending a six-year Labour Party reign ushered in by Jacinda Ardern. Luxon, 53, was sworn in as head of a new coalition government by New Zealand´s governor-general in a ceremony in the capital Wellington. “It is an honour and an awesome responsibility,” Luxon told reporters.

Christopher Luxon (L) looks on as Governor General Dame Cindy Kiro signs documents which formally made him Prime Minister of New Zealand on Monday. — AFP
Christopher Luxon (L) looks on as Governor General Dame Cindy Kiro signs documents which formally made him Prime Minister of New Zealand on Monday. — AFP 

The conservative said he would prioritise taming inflation and bringing down interest rates, and also confirmed he would scrap a so-called “generational smoking ban” adopted last year that stops sales of tobacco to anyone born after 2008.

Luxon said the tax revenue from ongoing cigarette sales would generate welcome income for the government, but also voiced concern that the ban would create a flourishing -- and untaxed -- black market.

The move was criticised by anti-smoking groups as a step back for the country. “This is a major loss for public health, and a huge win for the tobacco industry, whose profits will be boosted at the expense of Kiwi lives,” the Health Coalition Aotearoa -- the Maori name for New Zealand -- said in a statement.

The anti-smoking legislation, scheduled to start later this year, was designed to almost immediately reduce the number of people using tobacco products.