New Zealand passes a law gradually banning the sale of tobacco


New Zealand’s parliament on Tuesday passed a law gradually banning the sale of tobacco starting in 2027, which will make the country the second to ban the product after Bhutan.

The law, presented by the Government in December last year, establishes that those born on or after 1 January 2009, starting with those who turn 13 this year and will turn 18 in 2027, will never be able to legally purchase tobacco in New Zeeland.

The law, backed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labor Party, passed by 76 votes to 43.

“This legislation accelerates progress towards a tobacco-free future,” Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verral said in a statement, adding that the law will also reduce the amount of nicotine tobacco products can carry.

The minister specified that “thousands of people will live longer and healthier”, while the health system will be able to stop spending up to 5,000 million New Zealand dollars (about 3,198 million dollars or 3,034 million euros) to treat various types of cancer, heart attacks and amputations due to tobacco.

The new law requires the closure of 90 percent of the 6,000 shops that are currently allowed to sell tobacco in the country. “This legislation requires there to be a maximum of 600 tobacconists by the end of the year,” Verral said.

The minister stressed that, according to a study conducted with 25 shops that have stopped selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in the country, 88 percent “suffered a neutral or positive financial impact”.

In New Zealand, just 8% of adults smoke every day, according to surveys, up from 9.4% in 2021 and 16% a decade ago.

According to 2019 OECD data, 28% of adults smoke regularly in Turkey, compared with 24.5% in Chile, 21.5% in China, 19.8% in Spain, 13% in Finland, 10 .9% in the United States, 9% in Norway, and 4.2% in Costa Rica, among others.

HIGH TAXES ON TOBACCO

Over the past 10 years, New Zealand has raised tobacco taxes by up to 165% and a pack of cigarettes costs at least NZ$30 (about $19 or €18).

The main opposition parties, National and ACT New Zealand, voted against the law.

National MP Shane Reti said his party is in favor of first reducing tobacco consumption and then the number of tobacconists, for which he criticized the law by requiring the closure of thousands of establishments.

The Maori Party supported the law but questioned why electric cigarettes were not included in the ban.

Some critics of the law also predict that the ban will increase tobacco smuggling into the country.

Following New Zealand’s lead, the Malaysian parliament began debating a bill last July to ban the sale of tobacco to newborns from January 1, 2007.

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