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Tuesday April 23, 2024

New Zealand set to scrap world-first tobacco ban

The new coalition government elected in October confirmed the repeal will happen on Tuesday as a matter of urgency

By REUTERS
February 28, 2024
A person can be seen while smoking. — AFP/File
A person can be seen while smoking. — AFP/File

WELLINGTON: New Zealand will repeal on Tuesday a world-first law banning tobacco sales for future generations, the government said, even while researchers and campaigners warned of the risk that people could die as a result.

Set to take effect from July, the toughest anti-tobacco rules in the world would have banned sales to those born after Jan. 1, 2009, cut nicotine content in smoked tobacco products and reduced the number of tobacco retailers by more than 90 percent.

The new coalition government elected in October confirmed the repeal will happen on Tuesday as a matter of urgency, enabling it to scrap the law without seeking public comment, in line with previously announced plans.

Associate Health Minister Casey Costello said the coalition government was committed to reducing smoking, but was taking a different regulatory approach to discourage the habit and reduce the harm it caused.

“I will soon be taking a package of measures to cabinet to increase the tools available to help people quit smoking,” Costello said, adding that regulations on vaping would also be tightened to deter young people.

The decision, heavily criticised over its likely impact on health outcomes in New Zealand, has also drawn flak because of fears it could have a greater impact on Maori and Pasifika populations, groups with higher smoking rates.